I signed up for a community-type blogging thing a couple of weeks back. It just seemed like such a lovely idea: to flood the Blogosphere with posts on compassion. I’ve never done one of these before and I’ve been wracking my brains since signing up, to think of an angle to write about.
#1000speak about compassion.
Yesterday, I wrote about a call I received at work, a query about how to prevent HIV in a tiny girl child who had been raped by a 14-year old. My heart broke to hear such a thing, again, for this is not an unusual happening in this screwed-up world we live in. There was my angle – an angle I’d prefer not to have presented itself but there you have it.
I dealt with the practical things, the things I can help with, the medical stuff. The child’s broken spirit, though, is out of my grasp, I’m not equipped to help with that. I can only hope that where she is, there is someone to help her heal, as best as she can. Someone filled with the compassion she needs.
After that, my thoughts turned to the young boy who had committed this atrocious act. A boy. My first instinct was to rage and scream and bring up castration and punishment and to throw the perpetrator to the wolves, preferably hungry ones. Then I thought about this post that I needed to write: a post about compassion. Do humans who can commit such monstrous acts deserve our compassion? Perhaps not, but until we spread our compassion everywhere, to everyone, is there any hope that we can fix this brokenness?
While I realise it’s probably a relatively controversial thing to contemplate: compassion for not only the victim, but the attacker, too and, to be honest, I don’t know if I’m quite sure to what point I could take that. What I do know, though, in this particular case, where the perpetrator is 14 years’ old – a child himself – there is something seriously broken in him, too. Or, more broadly, broken in our society. He has seen things, had things done to him, been used or abused or neglected to a point where he thinks that unconscionable act is okay. He needs our compassion. Does he deserve it? I’m not sure, but I am very sure that he needs it.
At this point, I looked up the true meaning of compassion:
‘a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.’
I must admit that I struggle to feel sympathy for him at this point – far from it – but I feel sorrow, so very much sorrow and an incredibly deep desire to alleviate his suffering, if only to make sure that he never, ever, does such a thing again. You see, I believe that in fighting all the frightful things that are happening in the world – this being just one example of a much greater net of foulness – with more violence and more hatred just perpetuates it.
Until we try to understand the root of the brokenness – all of it – we’ll never fix it. A little compassion, a lot of understanding, a gentleness and a strong desire to fight the messy disaster of society as it is now is the only way that we’ll survive.