Author and founder of Compassion Power, Steven Stosny, Ph.D., teaches that the root cause of abuse is a “failure of compassion.” This is also what plagues the discourse of taboo topics such as politics and religion. When we cling too tightly to a position we’ve held, there is no way we can abandon our egos long enough to enter into another’s experience and perception. Failure of compassion is what causes our interpersonal conflicts to be reduced to hostility and defensiveness. In an attempt to have power over another, to be right, to quell our own inner insecurities, we end up forgoing our humanity. And yet, respectfully considering someone else's perspective is exactly what we must do if we want to grow in our relationships and in community with one another.
True humility is is required to openly regard the merits of each other's opinions and preferences. We must work to foster the ability to at least attempt seeing a situation from a point of view that is not our own. This means taking into account all that shapes the other human being/s involved — their experiences of love, success, support, relationships… fear, hardship, trauma, loss… and everything in between that influences one’s life. Every effect has a cause, even if we cannot see it outright.
Recently I read the bestselling book, Just Mercy, by Bryon Stevenson. It’s described as “An unforgettable true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to end mass incarceration in America — from one of the most inspiring lawyers of our time.” I will add that I found it to be an extraordinary memoir with the capacity to transform each reader. I have been so moved by this book and specifically the way Stevenson models the kind of emotional maturity mentioned above — the ability to lead with compassion. How hard that is to do within our own families, let alone toward people society has forgotten or thrown away. Not only is Stevenson’s life an incredibly beautiful way of living and loving, he also reveals how tremendous power can unfold when someone is authentically rooted in such solid ground, the ground of compassion.
All of this begs the questions: where in my life am I grounded in compassion and where might I need to dig deeper? How about you?
May you be inspired!