What we need is more compassion in this world. A more evolved form of it.
Not Compassion 101. The kind that is really sympathy that uses appropriately coined phrases in the midst of loss and suffering. The kind you find on sympathy and loss cards, “Thinking of you”, “Sorry for your loss”, “With Sympathy”.
Or even Compassion 201. That is the kind that has empathy and sympathy. But, its also the kind that has to share its story. It’s the type that says, “I know how you feel because my cousin, my friend, my sister, etc., went through the same thing.” It is often helpful and comforting. It’s a back and forth exchange of two survivors sharing their story.
But, what we need right now is something more. We need Compassion 301. Compassion 301 is the understanding that pain is the source of anger and resentment. We’ve forgotten how to listen to the pain. Instead, we’ve grown reactive to the anger and resentment. We forget, or are ignorant to, the underlying feeling behind it all is pain. And in order to heal that pain we need to listen. In order to really listen, we have to silence our egos, our responses, our stories, and hear the pain of the other person. Often it is hidden between the sighs and shouts of anger and resentment. But, it’s there, longing to be heard, validated, and healed.
I’m not a person of color. But, I am a woman. I am a mother and I can hear the pain and fear of black mothers. I’m learning to listen to them and understand their pain and fear. To truly listen to them and the African-American communities across this nation: without ego, without waiting to give my response, without giving them advice.
The most powerful thing I did for my aunt at my uncle’s funeral was to sit down next to her, hold her hand and listen. I didn’t give her platitudes, advice, or remonstrations. I held her and listened.
We need compassion 301. The strength to silence ourselves and listen to the pain of others underneath the anger and resentment they wear like an insect’s armor. We need to listen to the soft, tender pain of their heart.