As the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn, wrote: "If you think that compassion is passive, weak, or cowardly, then you don't know what real compassion or understanding is. If you think that compassionate people do not resist and challenge injustice, you are wrong. They are warriors, heroes, and heroines who have gained many victories. When you act with compassion, with nonviolence. . . you have to be very strong. You no longer act out of anger, you do not punish or blame. Compassion grows constantly inside of you, and you can succeed in your fight against injustice. Mahatma Gandhi was just one person. He did not have any bombs, any guns, or any political party. He acted simply on the. . . strength of compassion. . ."
Deciding on compassion toward another allows healing to happen. It allows ruffled feathers to settle, stirred-up emotions to quiet, and understanding and communication to begin. Compassion can right many wrongs. Certainly things happen in life that we are justified in feeling anger or resentment about, and we need to feel those things. We need to look closely at those situations in order to learn and grow. At some point, though, we need to get to that place that acknowledges God expressing as each of us. We are all on a path of remembering. We all have bad days, and we all wear blinders around certain situations. The truth is, everyone is doing the best they can with what they have in any given moment. It does no good for us personally or for our human evolution to hold on to judgement.
I learned awhile back that the thing I dislike most in someone else is the thing I most resist acknowledging in myself; a bitter pill to swallow, indeed. That other person is a perfect book to read, to learn about myself, if I choose to put that energy of judgement to its best use. I think it's well said in John 8:7, "He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone."
A friend this morning told me about a quote that she uses from her 12-step program, which I plan to use often. It's simple, and a great way to remember the power of compassion: "Bless them, change me."
May this tool be a blessing. . .