Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In Defense of the Attacker

"Ignorance does not yield to attack, but it dissipates in the light." -- David R. Hawkins, Power Vs Force

 On the playground the other day one of the moms I was talking to made a derogatory comment about a kid who was playing nearby.

That kid happened to be a friend of one of my kids. He is a sweetheart - not without his issues, like all of us - but a real sweet kid at his core. 

And I didn't say a word.

Partly, I didn't know what to say. What I was thinking was, "What kind of a person (adult) makes fun of a kid? Expletive. Expletive." I couldn't say that, so I said nothing. 

Talking it through with my husband later that night I realized what I could have said (should have said?) was something along the lines of: "I know that kid; life is kind of hard for him." 

A non-judgemental statement of compassion. Why is that so hard?

It's so hard because I was judging HER for the comment she made instead of recognizing right away that the kind of adult who makes fun of a kid is one who feels pretty darn bad about herself. Who feels like she is a mess. Who is in a lot of pain.

Finding compassion for the attacker is not easy. It's not easy when someone is mean to you certainly, but it's also not easy when you see someone being mean to someone else. Especially someone younger or smaller or less capable of defending themselves. 

But the thing is, when someone is being mean, lashing out, trying to hurt someone else, it is almost always because they are trying to avoid feeling the pain inside of themselves. I know this to be true about kids who are bullies, but I believe it is also true of adults (and of all of us at certain times and in certain situations). 

Finding compassion for the bully as well as his/her victim, allows us to defend without attacking and ultimately, I believe, to find compassion for those lost and messy and painful pieces of ourselves. And THIS is the groundwork for peace in the world.

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