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Understanding the World Through Compassion

(Loose English Transcript Below)

Another powerful quote from Thich Nhat Hahn today, for you to consider.

"Well, we have to remain human in order to be able to understand and to be compassionate. You have the right to be angry, but you don't have the right not to practice in order to transform your anger. You have the right to make mistakes, but you don't have the right to continue making mistakes. You have to learn from the mistakes.

"When you notice that anger is coming up in you, you have to practice mindful breathing in order to generate the energy of mindfulness, in order to recognize your anger and embrace it tenderly, so that you can bring relief into you and not to act and to say things that can destroy, that can be destructive. And doing so, you can look deeply into the nature of the anger and know where it has come from. That practice help us to realize that not only Vietnamese civilians and military were victims of the war, but also American men and women who came to Vietnam to kill and to be killed were also victims of the war." --Thich Nhat Hanh

I find this quote very stirring, as I think it's often easy to see horrible things happen in the world, and feel sorry for the victims of things like police shootings, or terrorist attacks, or war. It's easy to feel sorry for the victims, and be angry at the perpetrators. This we must not do. We cannot set up one group to feel sorry for, and another to be angry at--we are all human. We are all victims. Those who are harmed are victims, and those who do the harming are also victims. Victims of anger, victims of miscommunication or misunderstanding, or horrible life experiences or...who knows what. We must not push them aside and allow our anger toward them to grow. We must see them as people, just as we are. We must recognize the anger in us, and bring it close to our heart. We must sit with our anger, and allow it to work in us. Allow it to be turned into a powerful energy for change.

That is the work we have to do. And I believe that work is how we follow Christ.

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