empathy

Forgiveness, compassion, and shadow work.

This morning in a conversation, the shooting in Connecticut came up. I hadn't really talked about how I felt until today. As I tuned in to the sorrow, the words just poured out. I was expressing how important I thought it was for every one of us to feel responsible for what happened over there. No, we didn't do it, but we are all responsible for this society we live in and this society is the one that allows people like this young adult to slip through the cracks. Being a mother of two, I cannot help but think of the words of my surrogate father-in-law, "Your children did not ask to come here. You chose to have them and are responsible for their care and wellness." This individual that everyone is demonizing was once an innocent young child. Obviously, throughout the course of his life, he was not filled with love, empathy, and compassion enough to keep him from committing such a heinous act. His immediate family, for one reason or another, left him lacking as did his community and anyone else who could have been a cause for change. However, this person was born innocent and pure as we all are. He was born a human being and still is one. Unfortunately, he went astray and became a person who then killed innocence, as it was killed in him. This whole situation reeks of what is wrong with the world.

Later on in the day, a friend sent me a blog post that had this written in it:

"Do Shadow work. Any pain or ugliness that exists within our own individual Shadow adds to the collective Shadow of mankind. Rather than pointing a finger of blame at the deep Shadow wounds of others, we must take responsibility for our own unconscious wounds and bring them to light through daily reflection and intention. When we heal ourselves we heal our society as well and it is imperative that we begin now to practice compassion, forgiveness, and surrender."

In this situation, I have discovered the importance of compassion for everyone. EVERYONE. Not just for the children, for the parents of the children and for the people adversely affected by the shooter, but for the shooter as well. To what depths of despair do you have to be in to see the world in such a way where shooting children is a solution? With love, affection, and emotional and physical sustenance withheld, ANY ONE OF US could have been that shooter. Yes, me. Yes, you.

If you ask me, it's not enough to just pray that that never happens to us. Or to be grateful that it wasn't us. Or to hug our children extra tight for a few days while the shock wears off. We must all work on ourselves. Lift ourselves up so we can lift others if need be. Even if we're not all well-adjusted and perfect, we have to try. I don't have it all figured out, but I do strive for this and have evolution and the elevation of my consciousness at the forefront of my mind and in my heart at all times. I have people in my life that tell me when they feel I have made a mistake, whether it be a mistake with my children, with my spouse, or with myself. These things are all necessary for every person to be able to function properly. Otherwise, garbage in, garbage out.

Consider this:

Within the Babemba tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the center of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases and every man, woman and child in the village gathers in a large CIRCLE around the accused individual. Then each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, about all the good things the person in the center of the circle has done in his or her lifetime. Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any and every detail and accuracy is recounted.  All his POSITIVE attributes, good deeds, strengths and kindness are recited carefully and at length.  This often will last for several days. At the end, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe.

I had a really hard day today. It's been a loooong month. I have felt quite heavy for several days now. As much as I try to be the best mom I possibly can to my children, some days I am not all there. On those days I flounce between two settings: "checked out" and "really angry". My toddler was being very difficult earlier and I yelled at her with a very deep growl. I even scared myself a little bit. She cried. I hugged her tightly and apologized and explained to her that I needed her to listen to me when I was asking her to do what she needed to do. When we got home- with no tribe to welcome us home or to put me in the middle of a circle- she went to watch Sesame Street and I went to the bathroom for a few moments to cry. I felt awful and guilty. I wondered, "If I know I'm going to feel bad afterwards, why do I do that?" I racked my brain trying to come up with an answer, but nothing satisfied me. Why do I do something that I know is wrong? I just had to surrender to the situation. I am going to be a parent for a long time and moments like this will happen. My hope is to always act in the highest possible manner for my sake and for the sake of my children and to always try to put myself in their shoes so that I can know what is best for them and feel empathy. If that doesn't always happen, well then there is always forgiveness.

For God's sake, let us all dig deep and find forgiveness in our hearts. And then let's find some more. I'm not saying it's not hard. For most of us, it is. Let's forgive ourselves for that, too. And remember that we all act according to what we were given. So let's give more. And then let's give some more.