Saturday, May 18, 2013

What We'd know from Space

This morning, I was reading Time magazine and learned a little about the on-going conflict in Syria. Just this week war lords continued a horrific on-line battle posting disgusting YouTube videos of them mutilating their victims. This--and stories like this--are happening everywhere, every day.
Stories that make me want to crawl under the covers and stop reading the newspaper. 
Stories that cause my blood to boil and my heart to shatter. 

And I don't know what to do with a world like this.

And then I watched this 20-minute video about astronauts' spiritual experiences upon seeing Earth from space. How powerful it is. How you can't come back unaffected. How it changes them forever. 

"We have to start acting as one species with one destiny. We are not going to survive if we don't."

"We're seeing very clearly that if the Earth becomes sick, then we become sick. If the Earth dies, then we're going to die. People sense that something's wrong, but their still struggling to go back and find out what the real roots of the problem are. And I think what we need to come to the realization that it's not just fixing an economic or a political system, but it's a basic world view, a basic understanding of who we are that's at stake."

How would we be changed with a glimpse from such a vantage point as space?

Maybe it wouldn't solve every conflict, bring peace to every religious war, or gather politicians to agreement, but I think such a perspective would make us all a little more compassionate.

The word compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum meaning "to suffer with." 

The American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron says:
"In cultivating compassion we draw from the wholeness of our experience--our suffering, our empathy, as well as our cruelty and terror. It has to be this way. Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity."

Today, I'm not feeling entirely optimistic about our world's recognition of "our shared humanity." But I want it so badly.

I want religious folk to recognize that often we have more commonalities than differences.
I want bigots to stop bigoting and haters to stop hating.
I want everyone to have equal rights.
I want everyone to feel safe walking the streets at night.
I want cowardly on-line interactions to cease.
I want extremists of all kinds to lose their megaphones and their media attention.
I want Hollywood to exhaust it's appeal.
I want hurts to be mended.
I want scarred people to get help instead of getting even.
I want healing.

I believe that compassion is the way to all of that. 
Probably not eradication, but at least progress.

In The Gifts of Imperfection Brene Brown writes: 
"The heart of compassion is really acceptance. The better we are at accepting ourselves and others, the more compassionate we become."

So while I wish I could save innocent people in Syria from war and end violence everywhere, today I'm settling for acceptance. 

Which means looking kindly at my reflection in the mirror.
Which means not berating myself for an incomplete to-do list.
Which means suspending judgement when I think I know all about something.
Which means using a kinder tone even when I talk about things or people I really don't like.
Which means using less black-and-white language like "always," "never", and "those people."
Which means compassion.


KendraKay at said...

I want scarred people to get help instead of getting even.

Yes! I want that too. And I love how you bring it to what we CAN do at the end. I tend to imagine I'd be so different in the situations "out there" but there are times when it's SO hard to be kind to myself. Thanks for the reminder that kindness is the right choice even when it comes to me.