29 January 2012

A Return to Compassion

Oftentimes, hanging around on the internet is like watching the synapses of the brain fire off in lots of different directions, making strange but wondrous connections. I was just checking out a movie about the militarization of boys made by an 8-year-old homeschooler, and the next thing I knew, I was being spellbound by the gentle voice of Thich Nhat Hanh (known as "Thay"), extolling the importance of compassion. He was answering that same 8-year-old's question: "When I want to be in the here and the now, how can I not suffer when people are not being good to this world?"

Even though so many of the world's cultures are founded on religious/spiritual traditions that highlight the importance of compassion (literally suffering with, or "sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others), it is not common in our day-to-day dealings — especially since economics trumped social and civic relationships.

We numb and dumb ourselves so much in our EuroAmerican culture that compassion is simply not a common emotion. It is even less common in our society to hold the offender in our hearts with compassion.

But here, Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us that even climate change transgressors, miscreants, lawbreakers, criminals, villains, felons, malefactors, guilty parties, culprits, sinners, evildoers, trespassers, fossil fuel corporation CEOs and a whole whack of politicians (in short, those who are wilfully choosing to destroy the life-sustaining capacity of our entire biosphere) deserve to be treated with compassion. First, because they cannot help themselves ("If we look deeply, we see that maybe they don't want to kill, to destroy"), and second, because they will not come 'round or be healed or transformed otherwise.

Hmmm, I wonder if Thay would be willing to sit down and have a talk with Exxon's Rex Tillerson!?

No comments:

Post a Comment

I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?