Armed with Compassion

IMG_0281In all honesty, I’ve considered changing the name of my blog or starting a new one many times because the word “justice” can be misunderstood. Justice, to me, does not imply there is a good side and a bad side; an evil enemy and a loving hero, or that anyone needs to be condemned. Justice lies in the equity of all people and beings we live with on Mother Earth. To me, the root of justice is peace and interbeing.

Part of living in peace means remembering our interconnectedness with everything. We are visitors here, on Earth while we’re embodied as human, plant, animal, fungi, rock, or microbe. There is no “better than,” or “less than” for being an ant or the tall tree which the ant crawls upon. Suffering occurs the moment we believe we are separate from one another, separate from the Pachamama, Great Mother Earth. This quote by Thich Nhat Hahn describes interbeing beautifully.

In the midst of another tragic school shooting, I watch my mind attempt to blame, shame, and separate myself from the President, the NRA, the Shooter. “This is insanity!” I want to scream until “they” wake up- as if I’m awake and separate, even better than those men and women in support of arming school teachers.

Once I’ve allowed myself to feel the rage and judgments, because shoving it down is merely fuel for violence in the future, I dig to find the truth beneath my anger. I try to imagine myself in the shoes of the Shooter. I recall a poem, Call Me By My True Names,  which Thich Nhat Hahn wrote after receiving a tragic letter.

“I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,

who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate,

and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.”

I believe the line, “my heart yet not capable of seeing and loving” is the root of suffering, the root of violence, the root of school shootings. I ask you all, beloveds, what is your heart not yet capable of seeing and loving about yourself, your community, your work, your country?

My hope is that this inner exploration can be shared together, that we may be vulnerable enough with one another so that we can open the door of our hearts to compassion. This is not a time for being passive or believing we are separate, isolated, alone.  It is another opportunity to find compassion in our hearts for everyone. Instead of arming our teachers with weapons that have the potential to end another’s life, why not arm them with the wisdom to teach our children the bravery of non-violence?

Nonviolence means an ocean of compassion. It means shedding from us every trace of ill will for others. It does not mean abjectness or timidity, or fleeing in fear. It means, on the contrary, firmness of mind and courage, a resolute spirit.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Let us join together to envision and activate plans for rebuilding our nation, our schools, and our minds from a foundation of peace and justice for all. Everyday is a new opportunity to begin again. This time, let us include the voices of our Children, our Mothers and our Sisters. The Founding Fathers needed all of us back then when their hearts and minds were clear enough to say:

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.” —George Washington


“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them.”

—Thomas Jefferson

Unfortunately, they were still far too distressed to see their innate interbeing with the original inhabitants of  land upon which America was founded. Sadly, this lack of compassion or foresight led to the genocide of indigenous tribes who lived here long before white immigrants arrived.

Now, this nation needs all of us more than ever. Our children need us. Listen to them, listen to their screams. Open your hearts to one another. Show the children that you care and trust that they, too, have potential to lead this nation. The end of war is only possible when we create peace within our own homes.

Feeling discouraged already? I’ll never forget the moment I expressed grief and despair about the violence in our world to my friend Darryl, a Navajo medicine man.  He said, “You have a beautiful garden, so water your garden.” I understand this offering as a reminder to take care of your home, family, community, and the land which gives you life. Start with the place you can have the most influence – with yourself.

Grab a trusted friend and be seen in your fears, hopes, and emotions together. Cry, a lot. It helps move walls damming up your inner courage, your brilliance. Peace begins inside you and ripples out further than you’ll ever know. I believe in you. You are so brave. I invite you to be armed with an indestructible weapon, compassion. 

If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”  – Mahatma Gandhi


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