Fearless Reason

Fearless reason in an age of frightened absurdity.

Tag: empathy

Compassion for your Children

God
grant me
the grace
to have compassion
for your children.

Preserve
my heart
that it may not
grow hard
from overuse.

Grant
me the patience
to balm
even self inflicted
wounds.

Lord
may their
endless suffering
never hide you
from my sight.

 

I Lost My Perspective

My mind
wandered behind
another’s eyes.

To see
what they see
feel what they feel
know what they know.

I was blind
to the suffering
that was not mine.

Numb
to fear and pain
not personally
felt.

Ignorant of the cruelties
dispensed by those
lost behind their own eyes.

I lost my
perspective
behind that
gaze.

Eyes of the Oppressor

When I think about the Confederate monuments I try not to do so as a white man. I try to use my god given imagination to view them from the perspective of a person of color, who may be only a few generations removed from slavery and a generation removed from segregation. I try to think what it would be like, looking out of those eyes, to see flags and monuments on government property to an insurrection that sought to keep me and my ancestors in bondage….and it puts a cold chill in my stomach and fear in my heart. I can’t help but feel when looking out of those eyes, that a government that celebrates those symbols doesn’t represent me or people like me. Treating others as you would have them treat you means trying to look out of the other person’s eyes to see what they see and what they need and treating them accordingly. The eyes of the oppressor do not see the suffering of the oppressed.

How is it with your heart?

How is it
with your
heart?

Let us
talk about
your soul.

I will not
take vengeance
for your actions.

Nor will I
argue with
your ideas.

I will
resist your
assaults.

But I
will never
cause you harm.

Words will not
persuade the mind
of what the heart
already knows.

If you are
deaf to your heart
you cannot hear
my words.

Hurt me
if you
must.

I put
my body
in your way.

But let us
not feud
fight nor argue.

Instead
tell me
how it is
with your heart.

Let us
talk about
your soul.

Open Dear Heart

Open
dear heart
and love
this world.

Blink
neither
at the light
nor dark.

Open
dear heart
and let
the whole
world in.

Discriminate
neither against
the lovely
nor wretched.

Open
dear heart
even though
it hurts.

Shrink
neither from
the deserving
nor despicable.

Open
dear heart
and love
the infinite creation.

Neither
blinking
discriminating
nor shrinking away.

 

Growing Our Hearts

My heart has been hurting over the last few days, but maybe this will provide an opportunity for it to grow. This was a complicated election, with lots of ideological, economic, and sociological components. But at the meta level it was a choice between love versus hate. Inclusion versus exclusion. Empathy versus resentment. Love, inclusion, and empathy lost at the ballot box, but must never lose in our hearts and daily lives. It is tempting to hate, resent, and exclude those who brought this about, but then we become the thing we revile. Hate cannot defeat hate, only love can do that. Darkness cannot defeat darkness, only light can do that. We win by living our values more fiercely and unconditionally than ever before. We win by loving, including, and empathizing even with those we find offensive.

Into the Void

Occasionally I break the cardinal rule of anyone who values their sanity and peace of mind; I read the comments section of news articles. An while it can be a jarring and disheartening experience, I encourage you to do the same.

It reminds me that I have the privilege of living a manicured life. Over the years I have cultivated a circle of friends that I both cherish and enjoy, and have meticulously groomed my social media feeds to the point that everything I see is thoughtful, informative, or uplifting. As a result I have attained an artificial sense of the world being comprised primarily of thoughtful and intelligent people with good intentions.

Then I stare into the void of the comments section, and all my pretty illusions crumble like gossamer in a fire. The depth of the fear, hate, ignorance, and hysteria I see varies depending on the news source, but is always quantifiably present. What world do these people live in I wonder, surely it is not the same as mine. Who are these aliens that have such drastically different understandings of science, morality, and justice?

Then I take it a step further, and visit these aliens on their home worlds. In a click, I am on their social media profiles, looking at pictures, prior posts, and their self-identifiers. These aliens are human after all. They have families they love, friends, jobs, hobbies and passions.

They are human and we share a common Earth, but their manicured world is much different than mine. Their faces have a lot in common, old, white, and working class. Much like the family I love, but studiously avoid discussing politics and religion with. In these moments I feel empathy for even the most vicious troll. I am reminded that we are not so different after all, and that only time and education divide us.

As Thanksgiving approaches many of us will be seeing relatives who may or may not be like the comments trolls that degrade our faith in humanity. Perhaps this year, it would be useful to seek to further understand your similarities, instead of just avoiding your differences. You may not agree on politics and religion, but you’ll certainly have more empathy for these aliens at the dinner table.