“Human presence is a creative and turbulent sacrament, a visible sign of invisible grace”. John O'Donohue

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Compassion and Righteousness

I am scared.

It  has - unusually  - taken me a while to really notice and feel into  this. It is my body's familiar and oh so deeply patterned response to... well... just to the world.

But decades of somatic learning, embodied practice, therapy, medication and many dark nights of the soul have allowed me to notice and understand and self regulate to the extent that I am seen, by myself and others as a calm voice of reason, a mediator, a measured awareness amidst reactions. I have no idea how I got here, but the cap seems to  fit, and I wear it with grace (mostly) I am flawed, I am weird, but I seem to do this well. 

I have stepped into that role of late, as I see hate played out around me. The visceral reactions of those who feel the fear and trauma of the death throes of an old paradigm, indeed multiple layered paradigms of victimhood and oppression, of prejudice, injustice, mistrust and plain old hate. We are all feeling it. It is being played out  on the world stage and in the echo-chambered bear pits of social media. The language of hate abounds. The perpetrators don't even know that is what they are extolling because our own personal brand of hatred is always more justified than the enemy's.  Always. Righteousness is blind to the realities of others. Sometimes to Reality itself. 

And nothing hurts more than the truth.

Simultaneously we see the rise of the voices of alt:right, MRA and SJW. Conveniently labelled and acronymed metaphors for  those who are desperately clinging to their trusted ways of seeing the world, themselves and their relationships. Even if the trusted ways are deep with pain and mistrust, they are known. And letting go is hard. These are the voices of pain and trauma.  Centuries of oppression and suppression have lain deep grooves of woundedness in the collective consciousness. And there doesn't seem to be much space in there right now for love. 

And yet, naive as it may sound, love is what is required. Notice how I feel I have to justify my use of the word?

Yes. Love.

Love enough to listen. Love enough to see beyond the voice an into the humanity of the person behind it. The voices silently but loudly screaming:

"I am scared" 
"I am scared of you" 
"I don't want to be a victim any more"
"I don't know how not to be a victim"
"I am angry"
"I don't know how not to be angry"
"I don't want to lose my power."
"I don't want to be at war."
"War is all I know"

As I write, I feel the fear rising because I know to speak to this, to put this out into the public domain may well court some of the viciousness I have witnessed. I have already been considered naive, I have be told that if I was more  educated, I would understand. (on this note, it is always worth checking out the background of the person you are arguing with!)  I have been told to read some books (!!!) I have been accused of sleeping with the enemy. I am not a good enough feminist because I actively listen to the wounded  and angry voices of men. I am a Feminazi because I speak out about the ongoing oppression of women. I am not a good enough socialist because I am prepared to have conversations with conservatives. I am dismissed as a leftie because I am vocal about social justice.  

I have been called ugly and stupid. I have been labelled as a victim. I have had others step into defend me when it wasn't asked for, and I have had others abandon me when I called for back up. Rape threats are omnipresent for women who say intelligent things on the internet: only yesterday I was told I obviously wasn't getting enough cock. Because I had an opinion. (This person REALLY doesn't know me - lol ) But still I could see into the sadness of the man who said it. He was angry and mourning the perceived loss of his power. It is hard. I know. It is hard. For all of us. 

 I have - thankfully - never received a death threat.  I am way too love and light and clearly not dangerous enough for that. But you never know. In this current hyped climate of scared and angry voices it seems enough just to think a thing for someone to want to bring you to justice. I have just witnessed the attempted public take-down of a friend for simply voicing thoughts. Yes, they were difficult-to-hear, angry thoughts but just thoughts. Thoughts brought into the public domain willingly to court a reaction, but also to seek opinions, and most importantly, to engage with other thoughts. He may be controversial and at times, maybe he can be a bit of an arse, but he will always listen. 

And I feel the fear now of saying things.  As a creative person this self censorship  is stifling. Because it is often from the angry, disturbed places that the art emerges. If thoughts were crimes, many of us would be fucked.  And many (most) books would be burned. Let's be clear, "unacceptable" thoughts are now being policed. Reputations and careers are sometimes in the balance. And this is not OK. Ruining careers because you don't like what somebody says is not a right thinking, progressive, compassionate way of engaging. Righteousness is ugly, whatever side of the socially correct fence you believe yourself to be on.

And as the wearer of the cap I want to say:

Listen. Love. Be prepared to lose your victimhood. Be prepared to re-examine your power. Be prepared to be wrong. Be prepared to hear things that will change your world-view. Hold your boundaries. Be compassionate. Speak out. Take a stand. Challenge. 

But love. And listen. 


  1. Thank you. This is beautifully written and resonates profoundly. Although I am fortunate enough to have not been on the receiving end of these particular kinds of threatening behaviour the invitation to stand with ones truth and enter, sometimes tentatively, sometimes with the courage of a warrior, the public domain always awakens the fear of what damage the publicity might do to the sensitive membranes that we feel are separating 'us' from 'other' world views. Oh! But how these skins are illusory and in fact are just created to deceive the self...certainly I share the desire to stand for love and the healing that is an ever ongoing process of shining the light into the dark recesses of who WE are. One. Love

  2. This expresses so well what I have been feeling is going on but couldn't put my finger on it... thanks Jude.

  3. Great post... too much hatred. Electronic communication can be done well, but the mjority of us struggle with it.