If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other far more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.
Compassionate Inclusion is a matter that always remains close to my heart. I know how easy it is to make a place in my heart for those I agree with and those who agree with me. The real challenge is to keep my heart open to those whose view of life is very different and take a further step toward those ideas that might be judged as abhorrent, vile, obnoxious, or wrong.
What is Compassionate Inclusion?
It starts from the premise that everything that exists has a right and reason to exist, even if we disagree.
We hear a lot of talk about belonging and our need to belong. What we hear less about is the dark side of belonging. Belonging includes and excludes. A soldier can go out in good faith and kill another human being for King and country, even though he knows in his heart that murder is wrong. He is innocent of murder when he is loyal to his King and country. He is guilty of murder when he is devoted to believing that all life is sacred. When we are faithful to one group in our belonging, we feel innocent, even if that means we must exclude the other. Our life experience is informed by the perpetual motion of the pendulum swinging back and forth between guilt and innocence. The soft skill of managing these contrasting states is the fine art of compassion, humility and grace.
Compassionate Inclusion invites us to hold our belongings lightly in a way that allows us to make a space in our hearts for those who don’t belong. For example, we might belong to a group that believes that capitalism is evil and that anyone who supports capitalism is a greedy oppressor set on destroying the world. We may never know who or what others are loyal to in belonging to a group that believes capitalism is a force for good. We might be more willing to open our hearts to them with compassion if we did. As humans, we all want others to look at us with kindness. When we close our hearts to others, we move away from the flow of love that supports all life. As a result, we suffer, and we contribute to the suffering of others.
Loyalty is love.
Who among us would judge the value of the way another person loves as lesser in value because it is different to our own?
When we hold a coin and turn it over, we are reminded that it has two sides and a circumference. The circumference is part of the whole that binds each side to the other. And in this view comes a valuable insight. One side cannot exist without the other. The moment we seek to reduce or erase the existence of the other, we limit ourselves and pave the way to our destruction.
A resolution arrives in accepting that there may be a higher value and purpose to the existence of the other that we cannot fully comprehend. It may not be our business to know or understand it: only accept that the other is in service of love too.
We find peace within when we can agree to the presence of the things that may offend us. We can trust that once we have made a place for the other in our hearts, the other no longer has the power to disturb our sense of peace.
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Paradise (2011) by Jamaican painter Tamara Natalie Madden