Last week I attended a lecture that was all about civility, peace, love and kindness.
I walked out of this warm and fuzzy session en masse and straight into something that challenged the messages of civility I’d heard in a big way. A small group was gathered around another. Voices were raised. The tone was ugly. The “protesters” weren’t getting what they wanted and they didn’t like it.
Our lecturer had just taught us ways to handle just such challenges–just minutes ago.
Yet, several who had heard the same lecture I had went off on an ugly rage, in public. Made a scene. A BIG, loud scene.
My first response was to feel assaulted. The rage wasn’t directed at me, but it was an assault on the peace of the morning.
My second response was to wonder how not a single word of the lecture we’d been at had gotten in. How just minutes later–less than five minutes later–they were unable to put it to use.
They were tone-deaf, you might say. And lots of people are like this.
Most folks hold a view of themselves as kind and loving, even as they do things like this, acts that are unkind or rude..Their view of themselves isn’t congruent with the reality they present. I know this well as there are people in my family of origin just like that.
What’s that about?
It’s about feeling insecure and “less-than.”
It’s about vulnerability and feeling that they must defend themselves against a hostile world.
And it’s about wanting what they want, regardless of the feelings of others.
But it CAN feel like an assault: a personal one or an assault against the senses.
I’m not going to lie: it’s aggravating. But it’s also sad and it’s that sadness that I try to connect with and remember that those who act out need our loving kindness more than anything. They need us to hold them in love and in kindness, because their behavior reflects their void in that area.
There’s little we can do when people act out in unkind ways that hurt or offend, but holding them with love and light is one thing we CAN do. I use it a lot. And there’s a way to do it.
I wrote about how to do a lovingkindness meditiation in April 2017 at my other site here.
In the post, I referred to Jack Kornfield’s writing on the subject; Jack actually spoke at Ram Dass’ Maui retreat last year. He was amazing.
It’s an important technique. I’m not going to say it isn’t a challenge, because our knee-jerk response to being hurt is to lash out. But that gets us nowhere.
We can only be responsible for ourselves, and I think we would all agree that the world needs more loving kindness. Try using compassion to view those who act out. And try the meditation. You might be surprised at the results.