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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 6/17/17

A Better Human Story #4-- Humankind's Perilous Step into Terra Incognita: The Rise of Civilization

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I see some signs of that concerned action now as citizens, corporations, countries, renew their pledges toward reducing climate change, even as the American government walks away.

So yes, your idea can be a Big Deal because it has the potential to bring people together in compassionate enterprise, based on a realization of our unwilled and unsought predicament. Compassion is grown through continual practice, but first the awareness of mutual innocence must come. Your idea can be one of the ideational/emotional forces helping to encourage that awareness in those ready to receive it.

Andy Schmookler:

I appreciate that, Fred. And I think you are quite right: the perspective I offer is one that is conducive to compassion. It helps one see the brokenness in people as the fruit of the forces at work in the world that shaped (and mis-shaped) them. It helps lead to a "There but for the Grace of God go I" way of looking at "evil-doers." Or a "hate the sin, love the sinner" attitude. Beyond blame and punitiveness.

But, having said that, I feel compelled also to confess that in recent years -- as steeped in this "integrative vision" as I am -- I have found the place of compassion ever more challenging to achieve.

In these times, as the force of brokenness has come ever-closer to my own doorstep, and as the threat to all I value has grown, I find my enlightened understanding increasingly challenged by more primitive, visceral emotions.

Having spent the past dozen years engaged in what I see as a battle for "the soul of America," and watching so many tens of millions of my countrymen lending their support to a force that is almost invariably destructive in its purposes and effects, and dishonest in its communications, I'm dealing with feelings of repugnance for those people -- my fellow citizens -- who have been deceived and manipulated.

It has been harder for me to come from compassionate love for those whose vulnerabilities -- whose brokenness -- is being exploited by that force of brokenness.

I'm still aided by my understanding, but my understanding does not command the whole field of my responses. The more my own fear and anger and disgust are elicited by the immediacy of the mounting power of brokenness in the world right around me, the less "enlightened" I feel.

I see that I, too, in other words, have been damaged by my battle against this force of brokenness.

This experience of being damaged -- feeling less of my life-long "love of humanity" and less filled with compassion -- is my own personal illustration of how the pattern of brokenness spreads. How brokenness begets brokenness.

So I will not claim that the "integrative vision" I'm offering solves our spiritual challenges in any final way. It is an important ally for an enlightened approach. But the battle between the forces of wholeness and those of brokenness (around us, and within us) continues to be waged.


Margee Fabyanske:

It seems that, from the beginning of recorded history, humanity has sought to find ways to deal with the pain and hardships of everyday life and to oppose tyranny and oppression in order to ultimately find peace, serenity, and the courage to overcome the terror of their own mortality. Through the ages, spiritual leaders like Confucius preached about the transformation that would elevate them above the anger and madness of their lives so they could see themselves and their fellow creatures through a lens that could reveal the beauty and sanctity of life---and thus, "wake up" to their true selves.

I'm reminded of the story of the Buddha who often sat under a tree every day, meditating. One day, a Brahmin priest came by and was amazed at his serenity, stillness, and self-discipline. He asks if he is a god, an angel, or a spirit. The Buddha replies that, no, he is simply demonstrating that it's possible to live in this world of conflict and be at peace and harmony with it. There's no point in merely believing it. You'll discover the truth only by practicing this method of snuffing out egotism at its root in order to become a fully enlightened human being. He says, "Remember me as one who is "awake."

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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