Updated: Dec 26, 2021
I have been thinking a lot about race lately. I have been wondering how we heal the wounds between us? I have heard a lot of talk about compassion and believe that compassion is essential to what is needed but it is also incomplete. It is incomplete because most of us see ourselves as compassionate people and to some extent we are right.
What we have forgotten is the relationship between grief and compassion. In his book Goddesses, Joseph Campbell writes, “We are in this thing together and have to work together, not with passion (which is always archetypal) but with compassion, in patient fostering of each other’s growth.” If I remember correctly he goes on to explain that communal + passion = compassion.
So, how do we get there from here (you might ask)? This is where grief comes in, grieving helps to add depth to our compassion. Without it we are left with this shallow version of compassion, it has no depth. It’s possible to never get the real depths of our wounds and therefor never get the benefits from what it has to offer us. What happens then is we see “well intended” people who have a good hearts but unintentionally re-wound while trying to help.
We are a community, and I mean that at all levels, couples, families, neighborhoods, cities, states, countries, and global that has forgotten how to grieve. Notice that I said community and not individuals because grief requires community. Sobonfu Somé said, “We are wounded in community and we must heal in community.”
As we are willing to go deeper into our own grief while being held by our community something happens to our ability to feel compassion for each other. We are stretched in ways we couldn’t have imagined before and have more capacity for empathy, compassion, and forgiveness. This is how we heal what has been torn between us. This requires courage, courage to dive deep, not into the others grief but into our own.
The other thing that I would like to add to this, because I believe it also has something to do with compassion for ourselves and for others, is we think being nice is being kind (and or compassionate) and being direct or clear is being harsh or unkind, but I believe it is often just the opposite. Clarity is kindness. Clarity brings with it real clear choice. It may not feel nice but it is kind. Only where there is clarity can there be real consent. Only where there is clarity can there be real choice.