We were given no real goals or objectives. Told that nothing was real. Hevel havalim. That's all everything was. There was no value outside of the torah, and if it seemed like something did have value, it really only came from the torah. Knowledge, charity, mercy, justice, kindness, forgiveness, altruism, honesty and empathy, all had no inherent value. The only things that were really and truly real, were god and the torah, and everything else stemmed from them. Any feelings, thoughts, opinions or ideas we might have had were irrelevant.
"Whoever is kind to a cruel person, will end up being cruel to kind people."
This isn't saying that showing kindness to a cruel person will allow that person the continue their cruelty and is therefore cruel, but that you yourself will turn cruel. Wouldn't it be a good thing to show someone kindness? To prove that cruelty is not necessary, and to rise above it? The example given after the quoted statement, is of Saul disregarding the commands of a prophet and showing mercy to an amaleki, and later in his life killing innocent people for a perceived wrongdoing. At its core, what r' elazar is saying is that real kindness can only come from the torah and if you try to rely on your own judgement you will end up being cruel.
Tonight begins the holiday of shavuos, marking the time when the jewish people accepted the torah. A big part of that story is in the acceptance itself when the jews said 'naaseh ve'nishma', 'we will do and we will listen'. The accepted reason for 'naaseh' the doing, coming before 'nishma' the listening, is that first and foremost, the obligation of a jew is to accept the yolk of torah.
Follow and accept. Do what you're told. Everything is in the torah. Feel what it tells you to feel. And if you can't find it, ask a rabbi; If he say's it, it's true too. If we are told to love, we love; And when we are told to hate, we hate. We follow what we are told, and we are hollow. We act kindly to some, but to some we are only cruel. There is blood in our past, and rape and pillage and torture, but we don't feel bad because we weren't told to. We have seen the light that is torah, and we have accepted it. We let it fill us up, but it left us hollow. Blank. We will do as we are told. We are the blank generation.