Playing devil’s advocate, one could step up to say we should all be practicing what we proclaim to live by. Of course the reports of Cecil’s death this week brings concern for the family – the pride – he left behind. Especially after we heard today that his brother, co-caretaker of the family, has also been killed.
Our thoughts go to other instances we have witnessed or heard about of seemingly wanton trophy slaying of endangered species – the exotic animals of land and sea that are disappearing. But it is not only the hunters. The changing environment has taken some species – or has made it difficult for those creatures to remain.
So, our heart-strings have been plucked. How long will it be before we forget the beautiful black-maned lion who learned to live among humans in his sanctuary, only to be lured away – shot – and 40 hours later dying?
We would forget the school and theater massacres after a few weeks, were it not for the next incident that reminds us. We are only speaking of the many police killings because each one reminds us of the last too many.
When Jesus told us to love those that hate us or treat us badly – to turn the other cheek – he wasn’t asking us to give them a cursory blessing, turn away and ignore them. We have seen too many misbehaving children who are seeking attention to know that ignoring only escalates the situation.
Loving them is not enough, either. They must feel our love – feel it deeply enough to want to change their behavior.
Our compassion must be truly heart-felt and wrap around all parts of the situation. Sending loving blessings to a situation from afar might be a first step – but what Jesus went on to tell us is that we are all connected – we are all a part of the whole of “being-ness”. Our compassion must encompass caring for those who cannot care for themselves – but also caring for those who have not learned any better way to live their lives.
Compassion includes teaching by example and gentle demeanor how to treat others – other people and other species. We are all made of “star stuff,” as Carl Sagan used to tell us. Science has proven him correct in its uncovering what our eyes see, to show that matter and energy are the “stuff” of everything – even those things we used to see as things-without-life.
Compassion must, then, wrap around all things – all people, all places, all animals, all creatures of every kind, all vegetation, all minerals and elements – dare we stretch this to include all weather conditions, all political situations, all emotional outbursts or deep-running prejudices. Where might this take us?
Buddha gave us the message. Mother Theresa and the Dali Lama have shown us. We can have compassion laced with righteous indignation and humor – as long as we live and work on what is here before us right now.
Remembering that adage that repeating a process and expecting a different outcome – reminds us that we need fresh ideas – not retreads. And it has been promised that if we listen to the “still small voice within” we will be shown and will know the proper steps each of us needs to take.
We are saddened that we have lost a grand master lion – as well as all those innocent people in the latest theater shooting – and the many black men who have been killed by policemen who could not de-escalate their fear. But our hearts can also reach out with a compassion for the doctor who has a need to collect trophies, for a confused man who sees a gun as his only answer to feeling disrespected, and the policemen who bought into their culture’s bias and feel only fear when they meet a man of a different color and background.