The more compassionate our mind, the more we’ll be able to lead our lives transparently, honestly, truthfully, with nothing to hide. Compassion enhances our inner strength, reduces fear and causes friends to gather round us. As social animals we need friends and what attracts them is trust. And trust grows when we show real concern for others’ well-being.
– Dalai Lama
Most days, I do a pretty good job of staying out of the dark alleys of negativity that seem to pervade our human experience as a global community, of late. Social media shows us the best and worst of who we all are. If anything can pull me into one of those dark alleys, Facebook can do it. Although I do my best to avoid network news, it can find its way into my space from time to time. I have continued to practice being an observer of it rather than allowing myself to get sucked into the stories which are told and sold to the collective as news.
What I know about some of social media is that we can choose our groups. The best part of some social media platforms is that we are allowed to determine how open (or not) we can allow our posts, pictures, etc., to be. So, when there is a flash point in our societal drama, like this past weekend’s experiences in the US regarding the flag and the national anthem at football games and who stands, takes a knee or avoids it altogether — and the current sitting President’s words about it — comments made by others feel more sharp and personal within a smaller group.
Dehumanizing others is the process by which we become accepting of violations against human nature, the human spirit, and for many of us, violations against the central tenets of our faith.
– Brene Brown
It seems we are on a slippery slope here.
Where is compassion?
If we are a compassionate people, why are we unwilling to allow for the possibility that not everyone feels the same way that we do; about the conditions in our country, about patriotism or nationalism, or about the fundamental ways in which we regard each other? It’s as if we have no tolerance for differences.
If we are not leading our lives transparently, honestly, truthfully and with nothing to hide, then it is possible that we are not offering compassion to ourselves – to those parts of us within which are hurting, wounded or are grieving. When we are not afraid; when we are acting with heart – courageously, openly – we are more likely to offer compassion and be fully present in ALL of our interactions with others.
The answers to the questions about how we got here, why we are seeing what we are seeing now and how we can extricate ourselves from the mess and heal all of this, are not easy and will not be found quickly. However, unless we begin with ourselves; that we begin to look at our wounds, all of the places where we have been hurt, mistreated or injured – by words, actions or deeds, we will not find or express transparency, honesty, and truth in our interactions with others.
We will continue to behave as we believe we should…and when we do, a bit more of our true selves is lost. Is it any wonder then, that so many people are hurling such angry words and actions at so many others? The projections of all of this pain keeps calling to us…to see and heal ourselves, so that we can make a contribution to the healing of our society and in so doing, make a powerful investment in the healing of our planet.
The quote below can be found at the beginning of the last chapter in Brene Brown’s most recent book, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone.
All too often our so-called strength comes from fear, not love; instead of having a strong back, many of us have a defended front shielding a weak spine. In other words, we walk around brittle and defensive, trying to conceal our lack of confidence. If we strengthen our backs, metaphorically speaking, and develop a spine that’s flexible but sturdy, then we can risk having a front that’s soft and open…How can we give and accept care with strong-back, soft-front compassion moving past fear into a place of genuine tenderness? I believe it comes about when we can be truly transparent, seeing the world clearly — and letting the world see into us.
– Roshi Joan Halifax
I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.