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Gas Prices, Gender, Mass Shootings, and Compassion
In the very first issue of this newsletter, I suggested becoming friends with compassion. Best friends. I cited the Age of Compassion as one of the monikers of the new consciousness we are cultivating and you know that be compassionate is one of the concepts that makes up our conscious politics lens. Thus, it is oft-repeated in these pages that there is simply no way for us, ever, to create a society that works for everyone if we do not significantly increase our willingness to be compassionate. So let’s practice our willingness to be compassionate with a few issues du jour because, conscious politics.
Gas prices and compassion? You betcha. We belong to the planet, not the planet to us, yes? That means we’re made of the same stuff even though Earth is an actual planet and we are but a species that inhabits it. Essentially, the planet doesn’t need us to survive any more than the mother of a newborn baby needs her baby in order to survive (physically anyway). The baby, however, surely needs its mother and, with few exceptions, doesn’t attempt to kill or otherwise harm her. We call this living, breathing planet Mother Earth, the giver and sustainer of life and we need a vibrant, thriving, healthy planet in order for our human bodies to be vibrantly healthy and thriving. Our relationship is symbiotic but we’ve corrupted it. Of course, Native American and indigenous cultures worldwide know we cannot have a vibrant, thriving, healthy planet without treating it with compassion, without listening to it, without refusing to do unto it what we would not do unto ourselves. Politically, we Americans have been talking about caring for the planet in earnest since at least 1970 when that radical treehugger liberal president, Richard Nixon, created the Environmental Protection Agency. And yet.
We flood the zeitgeist with rhetorical flotsam and jetsam in a desperate attempt, it seems, to make the problem anything but our unwillingness to be compassionate toward Mother Earth, the planet to which we belong.
The problem, arguably, isn’t the price of gas on any particular day. It’s the violence we perpetrate against our mother. It’s our sheer collective unwillingness to be compassionate toward her, to treat her with respect, and to be grateful to her for what she provides to and for us. Our unwillingness is, itself, a house of cards upon which we erected an entire industry dependent upon inflicting harm on our home. What could possibly go wrong? When prices at the pump piss us off, we make it political by blaming the American president and other people and entities who have precious little, if anything, to do with oil prices. We flood the zeitgeist with rhetorical flotsam and jetsam in a desperate attempt, it seems, to make the problem anything but our unwillingness to be compassionate toward Mother Earth, the planet to which we belong.
Remember, the antithesis of compassion is judgment and, in this context, judgment is the idea that I know more about you than you know about your Self; I know what’s best for you. Right now, these days, White, cisgendered, Republican men and women, currently holding office as U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators, along with many of their cohorts who have microphones and cameras trained on them in various ways, believe they know more than people who are not cisgendered than not-cisgendered people know about themselves. They have taken to asking, derisively, What is a woman? Are you a woman? Trust me: I am not an expert on biology, physiology, or any of the ologies that contain the issue of gender. I’m just an American willing to grow my compassion muscle (for my own sake and) for the sake of our society, which means listening to everyone. It certainly does not mean telling people who clearly exist that they shouldn’t or can’t exist. And while I may not have it all down just right just yet, it seems that a woman is a human being who identifies as a woman, full stop. It’s what she knows her Self to be. Usually such people are in female bodies but, alas, not always. And if he would now like me to call him she, I am willing to make that accommodation. Compassion insists that I do.
Mass Shooting in Buffalo
Many activists and citizens were gratified last week when, in the wake of another American mass shooting, this time in Buffalo, NY, President Biden called it an act of domestic terrorism. He also called out the lie to which the shooter apparently ascribes that “defines one group of people being inherently inferior to any other group.” More, he called out the perpetrators of the lie itself when he said: “I condemn those who spread the lie for power, political gain, and for profit” and that really had the punditry buzzing. Rightly so, I’d say, as that Carlson guy and his cohorts on Fox need to be called out. One hundred. But another thing the president said, the thing I have been eager to hear in the mainstream for some time, the thing that I virtually never hear but seems to me the most important thing, the thing I didn’t hear anyone address in the post-event analysis, is what it says about our society, writ large, that we have amongst us so many (often young) people so susceptible to fearful, hateful messages. He called it “a hate that…has radicalized angry, alienated, lost, and isolated individuals into falsely believing that they will be replaced…” Angry. Alienated. Lost. Isolated. The shooter deemed himself “extremely bored” and we all know it’s all this and more. The question is, do we sit in judgment? Demonize? Ostracize? Or do we summon the willingness to grow our compassion muscles big enough, collectively enough, to listen and ask: What’s it like to be you? Where do you hurt? What do you need? And then serve.
Whatever responses come from whomever feels this way, I promise you it will be infinitely easier, far less expensive, and much more productive to help them transform it all into connection, purpose, and meaning than what any circular debates about guns and racial equity have ever delivered. Your best friend, compassion, promises you, too.
NOTE: We covered so many juicy topics in last week’s Conscious Politics Free Monthly Training. Mark your calendar for the next one, on the third Tuesday, June 21.