Compassion for Monsters

Feeling compassion for people whose ill will and animosity shine like beacons of hate is not easy. But it may be necessary. If we are to have any hope of healing the divisions that have brought the world to the brink of an explosive rift, the likes of which we have never seen, we have to practice compassion. Even for monsters. Because they, too, are victims. Their attitudes and behaviors may have been shaped by a lack of compassion. Perhaps experiencing it first hand can turn monsters into, if not angels, tolerable beings.

The question for me, of course, is whether I can live this dream. Can I actually adopt this attitude in my interactions with other people? The jury is out, but I think the preponderance of the evidence suggests the likelihood is slim. That’s the problem, isn’t it? We know what we should do, but we fail to do it. We know the answer, but we allow our flaws to refuse to accept it. So, we behave like the beasts we wish to overcome.

We become the monsters who need compassion, all the while wishing we could simply forgive the monsters we’ve identified in others. Catch-22, I think. Or some semblance thereof.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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4 Responses to Compassion for Monsters

  1. You make a good point. Forced compassion bypasses genuine emotion; I think it’s bound to be artificial and insincere. Regardless of the desire to be compassionate, if compassion does not arise naturally, I think the emotion that attempts to mimic it is hollow, at best, and as insulting as it is patronizing. Again, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate your perspective.

  2. Candis Robinson says:

    Thank you, for your appreciation of my experience I’ve come to suspect it was the spontaneous, non-forced aspect of my reaction that was key. Have had similar lead to gold experiences with gratitude. No clue how to replicate that nearly as many times as I would have liked to over the years. Something about giving oneself over to a situation, which definitely becomes increasingly difficult with age. I think where we often go wrong, however, is with forced compassion. I’ve become ever more convinced that forced compassion is quite often, the road to hell. Maybe because we are also forcing our own vision of what is good into another’s reality, not permitting them the opportunity of finding it for themselves, perhaps in order to alleviate our own internal discomfort. Lol..I suspect the universe prefers genuine over anything, anywhere, anyplace. I certainly don’t claim a lock on that though. The pearl of great price.

  3. Candis, your description of an epiphany as a door that, when unlocked, released you from a horrible cage is breathtaking. I am glad you broke free from the fear, terror, and hatred. Thank you for your comment.

  4. Candis Robinson says:

    I was just talking about this. When I was 14 I lived with my father and step-mother. It is clear now in retrospect, recalling the horrible things that she did to me and everyone else over the years that she was something akin to, if not actually, a grandiose, malignant narcissist.
    All that I could think of was getting away from her. Short of running away with nothing and nowhere to go, or killing myself (which I had actually attempted at one point) I had no idea how.
    One day, she was giving a Tupperware party at our house. She was running around frantically ordering everyone to do things to get ready for the event when she suddenly caught a glimpse of herself in a mirror.
    Suddenly she raced over to a desk that was in a side room off from the living room and began frantically searching for a pair of scissors. Once she found them, she raced back to the mirror and began chopping away at some small hairs that had been growing out of a single wart on the side of her jaw. The hairs had been there for some time, but apparently she had just noticed them.
    A wave of deep compassion broke through my fear, terror, and hatred of her. Immediately afterwards, a series of events unfolded relatively quickly, some of them quite difficult, however, within a few days I was out of that house and away from her forever. Looking back, that genuine, deep compassion had been like a door. I’m convinced that it unlocked me from that particular situation.

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