Thursday, December 18, 2008

In Someone Else's Shoes

One of the blogs that I regularly check out is The New Gay, run by some cool local folks and started by a couple of good friends of mine and former co-workers at the Washington Blade, my old employment haunts.

I recently came across this post about the Dubya shoe-throwing event. When I found out that an Iraqi journalist lobbed shoes at the current president, I surprised myself with my reaction.

I've been snarling and spitting fire over this administration for eight years because of all the reasons that readers of this blog can imagine.

However, I actually felt bad for the guy. Not because he hasn't fucked things up in horrific ways for human life, human dignity, the political landscape, the Constitution, and the environment - but because, in that moment, when the shoes were launched, I wondered if he was frightened. Did he think, for a moment, that these objects were something more devastating than a worn-out pair of size 9s? I realized then that I would not want him to experience that fear, or thinking about his wife and kids, or bitterly cursing the fact that he almost made it to the end of a tempestuous eight years without getting killed only to be done in at the 11th hour.

Reading the post on The New Gay and the subsequent comments, I got to thinking about compassion once again and something that the ever-amazing Mary Magdalene told me: You don't just get to be a priestess to those already on the path.

Boy, does she know what she's talking about or what?

I suspect that if all of us who are working to create new cultures based in love and freedom really want this shift to come about, we need to take the message beyond the choir loft and out into the world. I'm not saying we put on our cloaks and start handing out flyers on street corners. I'm suggesting that we start by erasing the divisions and anger toward people we perceive as "other."

Do people who commit heinous acts need to be held accountable? Abso-fucking-lutely. Does this mean we close our hearts off to them and treat them as sub-human? No way.

A good way to start might be just by raising points like the one above. When folks laugh and give in to the delight of Schaedenfreude, perhaps it's time for us, as priestesses of love and compassion, to open our mouths and say, "Actually, I felt differently."

(The first image is of the Immaculate Heart of Mary by Pietro Annigoni. The story of this amazing painting is here; I loved it, because this Virgin Mary is a working mother. The second image is of Mary Magdalene by Georges de la Tour and is a great example of the chiaro scuro technique. The third image was found with a story from the Daily Times, where performers from China's Disabled People's Arts Troupe performed the Thousand-Armed Kwan-Yin dance. Kwan-Yin is one of the major mothers of compassion.)


Rick Loftus, M.D. said...

Greg, this was an excellent reminder of taking our loving and non-violent spirits out into the world. It's easy to be kind-hearted to people who agree with and support us. Not so easy to show that to people whom we feel have harmed us. That is the test of true compassion. Thank you for your wisdom, and for the beautiful depiction of She-Who-Hears-the-Cries-of-the-World, our beloved Kuan Shih Yin.

Greg Fletcher-Marzullo said...

Hi, Rick,

Thanks for your great comments here and on the previous post - really lovely additions to the conversations and musings happening.

I'd love to hear more about your experiences with Kwan Yin and how she inspires you.