Thursday, April 28, 2011

Compassion ain't just for Bullies

I remember the undesirable response so clearly. Like it was yesterday. I had come home tear streaked and dirt caked. I had been pushed by a terribly vicious mean girl and my face and ground had become one. My Mother while cleaning me up was trying in her Jackie O. way to enlighten me on feeling some love towards the offender on the playground.

I was having none of it.

"But...but... but..." was all I could stammer forward. Didn't she get it?! Didn't she know what had just happened??
Of course as a Mother now I understand. Understand what Mom was trying to do. I can also pretty much bet that even though she was calm and still as lake placid she was also doing her best to stifle her "hand that rocks the cradle" rage too. All in an attempt to instill in me a different vantage point to consider.

Again, having none of it.

Which begs the question; how do we teach our children and for that matter ourselves to have compassion? Especially in those sticky situations where all you really want to do is go Soprano's on their ass? I used to think it was stuffing the anger like a sausage and channeling Gandhi. But now I am not so sure. I think it's more about Milk and Dark chocolate. Doesn't it always come back to Milk and Dark chocolate?

Everyone has some 90% cacao bitterness to them. Everyone. We also have our light, fluffy Milky Way side. Most of us walk around each day with a little bit of both. Some of us hide our bitter side well, some not so much. The trouble comes in when we get hurt, betrayed, generally disheveled and we start looking at everyone like they are one flavor. We start crying, ruminating, venting dark chocolate morning, noon and night. We see only dark chocolate for miles and miles, stretching out before us.

Where compassion comes in and makes an appearance is when we see both sides of the fence. Where we try to do the "walk in their shoes" motto. You know, what Mom said. We don't know why we are being pushed in the dirt. Is it because they are being pushed?

It's really hard to hate someone when you feel for them. Try it. It's hard.

We can't make what happened to us magically vaporize, can't set the fracture, can't unring the bell. But where we can sufficiently save ourselves is when we can compassionately look in their direction. When we give them a second glance and forgive them their foibles. Forgive them their need to push us down to a stumble.

I imagine if they could do it for themselves they would. All they can really do is push that pain out and away, like vomit. Give it to them they say to their inky hearts. They don't know what to do with it.

But we do. We know. We just have to have the courage to take that step, make that pinky finger motion forward. Clean up our faces, lick our wounds and do what Mom told us to.

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