Compassion in Chaos and Conflict

Charlottesville I don’t know how to fix what’s broken in the world right now.
It seems beyond my comprehension.
The sickness that has once again been unmasked, this time by the chaos in Charlottesville, is alarming. It’s not new. it’s not novel. Yet it shakes me to my core.
In my work I talk a lot about creating a world where everyone gets a seat at the table. A world where we no longer create from fear and pain. A world where everyone can see their inherent sovereignty, reclaim it, and live from it.
I know that this is still my purpose in my life; but to look at what’s currently going on in our backyard and try to see how we’re ever going to get there sometimes feels impossible.
It fills me with a powerlessness that often immobilizes me.
It pins me to the ground.
It makes me wonder if we’ll ever find a way to heal, rehabilitate, and move beyond.
Even from my place as a white male in this world that seldom, if ever, questions me or rises up against me, I find myself lost.
I don’t know what to do with hopelessness that looms this large.

Yesterday in the midst of it all, I did what I always do when things seem to be impossible.
I sat down, closed my eyes, allowed my inner landscape to go still, and found my spark.
I asked the question I often ask when clarity eludes me. “What do you want me to know in this moment right now?”
I sorted through the collective layers of anger, fear, and confusion.
I allowed them to evaporate through me.
I sat and I breathed, waiting for it to be revealed.
The word that finally surfaced like a flicker in the dark was “compassion”.

“Compassion”? I asked in response, feeling my frustration starting to roil.
“I guess I understand from the purity of my greatest self, that compassion for those in pain is always the beginning, but how does that make things better right now?” “How does that help me find clarity in the chaos and the conflict”? “My job is to help people, to be of service, and telling them to just have ‘compassion’ feels empty and meaningless.”
I was starting to get a little fired up.
I settled and the answer came again.
“For yourself”.
I opened up to this new perspective and then I felt the shift.
The almost imperceptible crack in the wall of illusion fear had created.
I felt my energy soften and expand.

Compassion for myself.
I sat with this feeling. I saw it as a light that slowly began to fill me.
I watched it move through every cell in my body. To the darkest, angriest, most fearful corners of my self.
The hidden places in my mind that were having fantasies of vengeance and destruction put their weapons down.
I breathed into it a bit more soaking up my fill of the energy that required nothing of me other than the willingness to let it in.
Later that day in my weekly Soul Expansion call, the energy came in once more. The energy work portion of the call found us all held in a powerful field of Divine Compassion.
The message that I was left with was simple.
In times like these compassion is the key.
Compassion is powerful and brave and strong.
Compassion is fierce and protective and true.
Compassion for ourselves is an act of revolution.

I don’t know how to fix what’s broken in this world right now, and that’s ok.
I know we’ll eventually get to the place where everyone gets a seat at the table but I can’t see when, and that’s ok.
When I allow myself to show up without the answers, without the need to be right, or be the savior with a solution, I let myself off the hook.
Not having the answers doesn’t mean I don’t take action. It means that before I ask: “what action should I take”? I ask the more important question: “From which place am I going to act”? I find my power before I choose. I find my center before I act. I rise up into the fullness of who I am before I proceed.

Sometimes the answer is to march or donate money. Sometimes the answer is to give my time and my attention. Sometimes the answer is to write a letter or make a phone call or to sign a petition. Sometimes the answer is to move outside of my comfort zone and ask the hard questions. Sometimes the answer is to keep quiet and witness the truth of another so that I may learn something.
I’ll never know what it’s like to live a life with a gender, skin color, culture or background that is different from mine, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t find empathy and compassion for someone else’s experience.

To create a world where everyone gets a seat at the table doesn’t mean I condone the violent acts of others. It doesn’t mean I pretend they never happened.
What it means is that I let these horrible acts be my medicine. I allow them to show me ways to keep healing myself. Then I am able to offer the wisdom that comes through healing to others so they can learn to do the same.
To create a space built on freedom where all are welcome doesn’t mean that I give anyone a free pass. it means I remind myself that until they’ve done the work of facing their own sickness, they’ll never be able to enter the space of knowing what it is to live freely. Not because they are excluded from it, but because in order to know the magnitude of your own power, you must first use it to heal yourself. You can’t walk through the door of freedom until you truly know what you are capable of. Owning our power and using it wisely first requires us to take responsibility for all of the ways we have misused our power. Against others and against ourselves.
Not having the answers doesn’t mean I rest in my privilege, it means I use it as a tool. I use my voice to speak for those who are silenced. I use my resources to support those who have not been given the same access. I can’t walk the path for another, but I can use my freedom to light the way for those who currently only see darkness.

In order to create a world where everyone gets seat at the the table, we have to meet ourselves where we are. We have to hold others as accountable as we have held ourselves.
I have compassion for those who are currently wrestling with their demons because I have wrestled with mine. I also know that until they are ready to heal and to change, there is nothing anyone can do for them.
When we let ourselves experience our fear and anger and confusion and rage, we validate our humanness. It is our job to give our pain a voice both individually and collectively. Once our pain has a voice, then it can tell us a story. Once we hear the story, then we can begin to understand it. Once we understand it, we no longer fear it. When we no longer fear it, it no longer controls us.

So for today, the answer is to find compassion for myself first and then ask how I can effect change from a compassionate place.
Today that is the only answer I have.

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