Friday, June 17, 2016

Compassion Without Compromise

A truly oppressive person cannot see beyond his or her own self-interest and so no relationship with them will ever be joyful or reciprocal. They are blinded by their ego and live in a world by themselves and for themselves. Do not grovel to these people. Do not try to placate them. Do not hope they will change. Do not engage with them or hang about with them. Do not let them provoke anger. Never sink to their level. We must never tolerate a tyrant's efforts to hold us back. We mustn't let them govern our potential. Every display of submission, deference, meekness, and compromise they see from the desperate or feeble among us gives them a perverse joy, and their power grows. And every time we back down from them or minimize ourselves, we become more fearful and weak. 

So let us be diligent in avoiding these people, without ever deviating from our own path. We mustn't wish them ill; it's not worth the energy, and wicked people will get what they deserve as they destroy themselves. Our success lies not in their destruction but in our own advancement, not in the astonishment on their faces as we surge past them but in the joy in our hearts at having prevailed despite them.  

From The Motivation Manifesto by Brendan Burchard.

This chunk of wisdom resonated with me like hearing the perfect song at just the right moment.  

The past week has been both troublesome and carefree. Some days have been more complex versions of my experience being woken by Ramazan drummers at 2 AM, jolting me out of much needed REM sleep, and then hearing the faint and welcome sound of the first call to prayer from the nearest mosque. The first sound blasts into my consciousness and the other drifts in like a peaceful lullaby. I'm happy that every day has ended on a peaceful note, thanks to my wonderful friends. And since I don't have to wake up early anymore, I can wait until the drummers finish their ambush on people's sleep before I crawl under the covers. 
My lovely friends. 
The purpose of fasting during Ramazan, as I understand it, is to practice self-control and to identify with those who are hungry and feel compassion for them. I consented the other day to what I thought was showing compassion for someone, but what turned into something different. I agreed to listen to someone. Listening is good, right? If they are good people and the listening serves both of you, then yes. If you are just listening to a tyrant going on a tirade, it is best to excuse yourself.

I immediately labeled this experience as a sounding board/emotional punching bag as "wasted compassion," but after some reflection, I decided there's no such thing. Feeling compassion doesn't mean you have to turn yourself into a rag doll for people to wring with violent hands. Compassion can be self-imposed hunger that reminds you there are people who don't have enough to eat. Compassion can be trying to understand addiction by holding your breath until you can't think about anything in the whole world but wanting to breathe. For addicts, their next fix is the equivalent of another person's next breath. Compassion can be relating to different characters in literature and films.

But one thing it's not: subjecting yourself to abuse. 

Here's a song that always stirs up compassion in me. Compassion can also be paying tribute to Tom Waits with a beautiful rendition of one of his songs. 

1 comment:

  1. Ms Falk so succinctly put! Happy to have a friend like a good red wine; full bodied, rich in flavour and colour. That's you. X