Children who develop strong, caring relationships with all the people and living things around them will be more grounded and ultimately more prepared to function in, and meaningfully contribute to, an increasingly complex society. – Mark Sorensen
These are simple, yet profound ideas. The world has enough conflicts. Can we use our talents and gifts to help build bridges of compassion with kindness, service, and communication? Simple kindness expressed through small actions can have a big cumulative effect. I’m learning to live my life more from a place of sacred service where the guiding question becomes “how may I be of service?”
This intention led to my writing this post. I’m frustrated by the outpouring of hate and judgment following the incidents in Charlottesville, Virginia. Here is a post on changing the world with simple acts that gave me the idea.
With the world news filled with stories of fear, hate, protests, division, and war, this seems more important than ever.
The recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I attended college, bring up many feelings. The web is filled with stories proclaiming the evil of the white supremacists and their actions. I feel sad that we still live this way. I’m referring not only to the racism, injuries, and hateful actions, but also the hateful and divisive responses from the rest of the world. Filling up our blogs and social media with posts about how horrible the racists are does nothing to heal our country. This only adds to the hate, division, and separation. The truth is we are all connected and need to find ways to heal and include everyone in our hearts, minds, and communities.
How do we build bridges of compassion and community?
We find ways to come together in peace and acceptance, embracing our differences as part of what makes life interesting. The truth is we are all one human and world family. Yes, when a family member acts out in ways that are harmful, we need to take action. But maybe instead of punishment, calling them out, ranting about how horrible they are, maybe there is a more enlightened and compassionate response.
Maybe as the Course in Miracles suggests, they are calling for help in the only way they know how. Maybe they need our love and compassion. Teachers and prophets have long professed the need to turn the other cheek, love thy neighbor, or offer loving kindness no matter what. These are nice ideas, but how do we live them in our daily life?
The approach used by the Navajo might be useful. This article on Peacemaking the Navajo way highlights their use of inclusion, listening, and relationships to build harmony in their community, especially during conflict.
How do we include the protesters in Charlottesville in our circles of compassion?
The question also reminds me of the African concept of Ubuntu which means “I am because you are.” Community and connection are what makes us human.
One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.” – Desmond Tutu
There are tribes in Africa that respond very differently when a community member misbehaves. Instead of punishing or isolating them, they come together as a community to give them love and help them heal.
Apologies in advance to my liberal friends, but I believe that publicly calling out people and their actions do not help heal the problem or the people involved. If hate and racism exist, which clearly they do, then we have a problem to heal as a community. It won’t happen by proclaiming how horrible they are or shunning them. And it is not a reason to start another war, whether that is a war of words or actions.
Maybe instead of protesting that which we find disagreeable, we can look for common ground. We can reach out to people we don’t understand or agree with and invite them into our hearts. Or we can have conversations that might lead to a connection or the realization of our shared humanity. If you choose to reach out to someone that you don’t agree with or understand, this article on how to listen with compassion might help.
We can also use these public events as opportunities to heal ourselves. We can look inside to see where and who we are judging that is reflected in the actions we see that we don’t like in others.
Will you join me in finding practical ways to build bridges of compassion? This Pentatonix version of John Lennon’s classic song Imagine is a perfect song for peace, love, and inclusion.
Thanks for “listening” to me. 🙂 Peace out, Brad