Increasingly we find ourselves outraged, even disgusted, at other peoples' behavior. The ethics, morality, even "common decency" of people in leadership positions appear to be racing toward new lows.
“Healing is bringing awareness & mercy into that which we have held in judgment & in fear.” Stephen Levine
But only being upset about others' perceived imperfections, helps neither ourselves nor them. In fact, it simply fuels smouldering resentment within us.
If we imagine having an only child or grandchild, whom we lovingly raised, grow up to be a really nasty criminal, locked away in prison after hurting many people, how would we deal with him?
The easiest (primitive reptilian) reaction would be to scorn & abandon him. This would hurt him and us.
The most mature or evolved response, with greatest long-term benefit for ALL, would be our heart-mind perceiving some tiny spark of the innocent goodness he was born with. We'd then do our best to re-ignite that spark, to nourish & rehabilitate him so he could evolve, mature, flourish and lead a full meaningful decent life, and make amends to the people he hurt. Our nurturing response would be from unconditional love - love that is unearned yet equally deserved & tremendously needed by every one of us.
Feeling lack of unconditional love is, I suspect, the underlying basis of all traumas. Trying to fill the resultant empty feeling inside through aggressive acquisition of things, people, experiences, achievements - "looking for love in all the wrong places" - is the cause of all "bad behavior" particularly addictions.
"The truth is, what one really needs is not Nobel prizes but love. How do you think one gets to be a Nobel laureate? Wanting love, that's how. Wanting it so bad one works all the time and ends up a Nobel laureate. It's a consolation prize.
What matters is love." George Wald - Nobel prize-winning biologist from Harvard
“Not knowing we are loved and lovable makes the heart grow cold. And all the tragedy of human life follows from there."
John Welwood. "Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships. Healing the Wound of the Heart." Trumpeter, 2006.
I've heard a number of people, including those most affected by Hitler's atrocities, say that had they been born with the same genetics and exposed to the same environment as Hitler, they would have behaved exactly as he had. The logic of this striking statement is imho very strong, whether one is a devout secular materialist or strongly spiritually inclined. Perhaps most importantly, it gives credence to the idea that 'everyone does the best they can, under the circumstances.' This does NOT condone harmful behavior, which has to be quickly stopped & healed as well as possible. But it's best accomplished from a position of connection with a fellow imperfect human being, instead of disconnection, as if the offender were some alien life form.
Whether you think you're an inherent part of cosmic primordial intelligence temporarily manifesting as a unique physical form; or the child of a deity in whose image & likeness you manifest; or a piece of meat that can accidentally think for a while; how else, other than genetics (nurturing of your ancestors) and your personal nurturing, can the huge variations in behavior come about, especially wrt morality, ethics, decency in fellow human beings who otherwise arose just like you? This should allow us to be far less judgemental of others AND ourselves!! If we can give ourselves some serious self-compassion, it's FAR easier to be compassionate towards others.
The massive influence of "Nature & Nurture" (genetics & nurturing) does NOT imho negate free will. We are ALSO capable of nurturing ourselves eg through meditation (& other spiritual) practices. See: http://www.johnlovas.com/2018/07/healing-basic-wound-of-heart.html
So it appears that we start life by being helpless, are nurtured to highly varying degrees, and mature in proportion to the nurturing we've received, modified by our genetics - eg our various inherited intelligences.
“Psychologists reckon that 94% of us, most of the time, are driven by the negative motivations of fear, greed/craving, anger, and self-assertion; such negative motivations lead to negative and destructive behavior. It is the role of spiritual intelligence to raise our motivations to the higher ones of exploration, cooperation, self- and situational-mastery, creativity, and service.” Danah Zohar
My tender heart trembles, Reacting,
the mind spins
this way and that... Looking for escape.
I cannot accept this. Feeling powerless Separate
I can't breathe....
This is the legacy of suffering
The wisdom, as always,
is about turning towards this pain. A deep, deep wound.
Admit it's there
Feel the feelings in this heart Listen
Don't look away
This is compassion for oneself.
with the steadiness
that comes from unflinching, Loving awareness,
Speak and act from the heart. Let it be known
Protect and Serve
Don't look away
This is compassion for the world.
A radical acceptance.
That sacred space between the out breath and the in breath...
Death and Rebirth
This is a prayer for all beings Mark Arthur, Black Buddhist author & meditator