Let’s skip the judgment and step into love.
Sometimes when I speak to people of the importance of compassion, I see a look in their eyes that I interpret as, Why? All day long we hear people (ourselves?) judging others, making assumptions, being sarcastic or critical of others. We hear of “hate crimes” in which groups of people target other people because of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, race, or religion. Then, even closer to home, we are appalled when we hear of someone cheating on his or her spouse, or telling a lie. Or, we see someone with physical or mental difficulties and we size them up as “less than” or we think they should be doing something differently. We roll our eyes over an “inept” coworker, or rage over the way someone else drives. While portions of our population are impressively compassionate, huge portions of our population are feeding their hearts and souls (and everyone else’s) daily with a heavy dose of judgment. Judgment poisons the soul and thus, people are feeling “sick and tired."
To combat our ego-based stance, we come up with slogans aimed at fighting judgment: “Teach Tolerance.” The problem is that tolerance is not exactly going to solve the problem―because, while there are different definitions of tolerance, most people align with the ego-based definition of “the act of putting up with something or somebody irritating or otherwise unpleasant.” This definition is still wrapped up in judgment and ego. It means, in essence, “You are irritating and unpleasant, but I’ll put up with you even though you should be different.” Undoubtedly, the definition that the people behind this well-intentioned slogan probably meant was, “The acceptance of the differing views of other people.” Consequently, the slogan would have been better stated, “Teach Acceptance.” Acceptance doesn’t imply “I’m right and you’re wrong but I’ll put up with you anyway.” Rather, acceptance implies “I have my way and you have your way and there is room for both of us.” Taken a step further, acceptance causes us to let down our ego-guard and open our hearts to the possibility that someone else may be able to teach us something, and the sharing of experience can happen―spurring growth and understanding. Let’s face it: It is hard to learn from someone when we are tolerating them, even though we think they are wrong.
So why should we practice compassion and acceptance? The simplest reason is because compassion and acceptance are based in love rather than ego. Not only does it make for more effective cohabitation of planet Earth, it also makes us feel better. The more complex reason is because the universe (God, Spirit, All that is….) has an amazingly wonderful way of teaching us compassion through experience―often harsh experience. We judge others for their physical disabilities and suddenly we find ourselves with a disability ourselves, or a close family member experiences one. We judge others for their financial status, then something happens that changes our financial situation and we suddenly have greater compassion and understanding. Someone cheats on us in a relationship (or one of our parents strayed in their marriage) and we are angry and indignant, then one day, temptation haunts us and we suddenly understand, finding forgiveness in our hearts. Suddenly through our experience, we gain compassion for others.
While some of that “experience” is inevitable, we can eliminate so much pain both in others and in ourselves―and possibly bypass the need for the experience all together―if we just skip the judgment and jump to the compassion. As my mom always said when we would see someone less fortunate than ourselves, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”
Whether your reason for compassion is selfish or self-less, compassion is still a good choice.
Love Tip of the Week: Be careful in your quest for peace that you are not waging a war.