For over a month now many of us have been focused on the case of Trayvon Martin. The young Florida teen shot by neighborhood watch Captain George Zimmerman. My heart went out to the parents and I prayed that God would give them the strength to endure. I couldn’t imagine what pain they might be going through having lost a child so young to a crime so senseless. It’s easy for most of us to find compassion for this family. As we look into the eyes of our own children and can’t bear the thought of losing them.
But what about George Zimmerman? Is it hard to find some compassion for him? Just as it felt like my heart literally hurt when I thought about what it might feel like to lose a child, I also felt sick to my stomach when I thought about what it would feel like being George Zimmerman. We have all been guilty of making poor decisions at one time or another, but imagine making one that puts your face on every news program, forces you into hiding, puts a bounty on your head, and has droves of angry people marching in the streets calling for your hide. When I think about being in his shoes, my days would go much like this. I couldn’t eat or sleep and my eyes would be swollen shut from crying as I contemplate the best possible way to kill myself because I would think that my life, as I knew it, was over. This is probably much of what Trayvon’s parents felt after getting the news of his death. How could you not have compassion for a person in this position, no matter how he or she got there? It doesn’t mean that you in any way condone what they did; it just means that you can always find a way to be compassionate.
How often do you show compassion? Do you have a particular criterion? In the movie “A Time To Kill” a story that depicts the trial of an African-American man who killed the Caucasian men who raped his young daughter, the defense attorney took twelve white jurors through the events surrounding the rape and then asked them to picture the victim, a ten-year old African-American girl, being a little white girl instead. He was trying to get them to have some compassion by putting a face similar to theirs on the victim.
So what is your criterion for being able to show compassion – race, gender, religion, age, culture, socioeconomic status? Do you find yourself only being able to show compassion to those who are like you? Or do you find that compassion is something that you really haven’t felt lately. Does it come up in your day to day conversations and it is something you discuss with the people in your household?
If you practice showing compassion to the people you come into contact with every day, those you may not be able to relate to or even some people you just simply despise, you will find that over time showing compassion will simply become a part of who you are.
Anger2Compassion . . . . . . pass it on.