For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?
…too few of us are ready to acknowledge that we can learn (as much or more) from an evil character as from a good one. We know that the do-gooders wreak a lot of havoc, but we do not seem to know that the evil-doers can work a lot of good in this fucked-up world. If they accomplish nothing more than shatter our idealistic dreams, they have done enough.
Henry Miller on Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
You know I should have had ONE drink less when I am:
a) eating leftover pasta and brussels sprouts at 11:30pm
b) contemplating calling my son’s father with the purpose of 1-declaring a truce and 2-telling him what a x-y-zed wretch he is (yes, these are mutually exclusive)
c) wishing I would have told a certain someone once and for all that I am into him and the son mentioned in b) is at my mom’s and not due home until after school tomorrow…and have no reason to be writing a blog post
d) all of the above.
You all figure it out. I am going to bed.
Watching the protests in Tunisia, other places, now Egypt unfold…and hold has me thinking about the twin virtues of patience and protest. Sort of a ‘yin-yang’ pairing, really–the Universe held in balance by opposing forces. In my tiny universe, I am currently involved in a bit of a showdown. The implications are at once clearly less weighty than the struggles of a country to find its way out of an oppressive regime and profoundly significant and complicated.
Generally, my practice has been to back away from conflict. To state my position and let it stand. I have done this recently when I elected not to continue communication with a relative who is profoundly disrespectful and self-absorbed. I tried to sort it out with her but realized that it’s not personal, it’s just how she goes about in the world. I couldn’t be respecting her and be comfortable myself so, for now, I let it go. Equanimity, kindness, gentleness trump being ‘right,’ having the last word, or coercing someone to change.
But, sometimes, when basic principles are being swept aside by another’s agenda–the need to control or their fear of being judged for what they have done (in this case, both) or some other motive–voicing the brutal truth is a virtue. There is safety in the truth, community in stepping out of the shadows, hope in enlightening the dark places and secrets and lies. The question is how to do it well, with integrity, clarity, and strength without being caught up in the other’s lack of principles or in our own egos. I look at those in Cairo, in the streets for over two weeks now, and am inspired.
So, I pray for safety for those who won’t stand down in the face of official unfairness and brutality. And I pray for the little angel sleeping in the next room, that I will be able to shepherd him through this tough time unharmed and provide him an example of the kind of compassion and strength it takes to navigate the big bad world of relationships and family.