March 25

Today's quotation:

All we see of someone at any moment is a snapshot of their life, there in riches or poverty, in joy or despair.  Snapshots don't show the million decisions that led to that moment.

Richard Bach

Today's Meditation:

I try to remember this whenever I'm faced with someone who's rude or obnoxious.  The snapshot I see may or may not be indicative of the true person who's standing before me, and there's a good chance that I see this person as rude because of things that have happened in his or her life over which the person has had no control.

Many people are taught rude behavior by their parents or other relatives, simply through the power of example.  We wouldn't fault a person for loving his or her parents, and if they love them, there's a good chance that they'll emulate them after seeing their examples.  And if dad is an insecure person who relies on insulting others to make himself feel better, why wouldn't a son or daughter pick that up?  And who's to say that it's not possible that no one has ever sat down with this person to explain just what they're doing to make other people react negatively?

It's easier for us to feel compassion if we keep in mind that other people have gone through trials, too.  It's easier to feel compassion if we remember that this person's teachers might have been simply awful teachers, and this person has thus learned some simply awful lessons and thus makes some awful decisions.

We can live in deeper peace when we stop judging others and when we stop reacting negatively to the things that others do.  We can live in deeper peace when we practice compassion rather than judgment--and we can help others to see more effective ways of acting if we're compassionate with them and not judgmental.  Judgment forces defensiveness, while compassion is a force that truly can change the world.

Questions to consider:

From whom did you learn most of your decision-making skills?  Were your teachers always good and effective?

Why is it so easy to judge another person based on a few actions, without knowing anything about his or her history?

What are the potential benefits of keeping in mind the fact that we don't really know much at all of other people's histories?

For further thought:

One of the ways to learn to "feel with" is to get to know others beyond a superficial level.  When we experience another's life the way he or she experiences it, our world expands and we begin to develop the ability to "feel with."  We develop compassion.

Anne Wilson Schaef

more thoughts and ideas on compassion



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