Compassion for the White Supremacist

It’s been easy to get overtaken by the anger and sadness and disappointment.  It’s easy to focus on the evil and label evil-doers.  It’s easy to be enraged and hate-filled.

The healing way, is rarely the easy way.

I don’t know the specific people gathering in the park spewing vile and hatred.  But, I know they are broken.  Whole and well people have no space for such darkness.

I don’t know the people wearing the swastikas or bearing the white pride banners.  But, I know they are alone.  People surrounded by loving, whole, kind relationships do not find themselves seeking refuge, companionship, belonging in a gang.

I don’t know the 20-year-old driver.  But, I know he is lost.  He is a kid.  His brain has not even reached neurodevelopmental maturity.  Somehow in his 20 years of existence, he was led down false alleyways and taught to follow false teachings.  A child surrounded by love, moral guidance and ethical leadership makes wiser choices.  Not perfect, but wiser.

I don’t know any of the crowd yearning to hold on to the statue of General Lee, but I know they hold their opinions strongly enough to warrant participation in a protest.  Whether misguided or not, this is hardly the point.  The point is they hold strong opinions.  It takes a lot of conviction to rise off the couch and out the door and down to the village square.  I know that yelling and shouting did not change any minds that day.  I know that those strong opinions remain rooted or even lay more deeply entrenched.

I am a white, upper-middle-class, educated woman with a whole lotta privilege.  And I know that it is up to me to shine light and healing.  And I know the healing way, is rarely the easy way.

I know that healing does not occur through hatred.

I know that healing does not occur through yelling and shouting.

I know that healing does not occur through melee and violence.

The healing way, is rarely the easy way.

Healing comes in the quiet moments.  Healing comes from digging underneath the surface, underneath the anger, underneath the guarded defenses.  Healing comes from truly seeing someone and seeing the dis-ease under the surface.

Healing comes to a broken person when they are held together in lightness.

Healing comes to a lonely person when they are held in the arms of an accepting and understanding community.

Healing comes to the lost when they are greeted with forgiveness.

Healing comes to the rigidly opinionated when they are confronted with compassion.  When they are gently seen, met where they are, and ever-so-compassionately shown a different, more life-giving, more full-filling, peace-full, and joy-filled way.

I understand that many people are too hurt to offer compassion right now.

I understand that many people have the “wrong” skin color or eye color or gender or sexuality for their compassion to be accepted by the enraged “right” right now.

I understand that complexities of history and power and politics yield intricate, subtle, and not so subtle influence.

I understand that not every broken person is capable of accepting compassion from anyone.

I understand that compassion is an act of strength, not weakness.

Compassion for the white supremacists, is really the only way to help them heal.  Compassion for the white supremacists is one of the most difficult things I can imagine.  It’s easy to be compassionate for the lost child with the tear-filled eyes or the autistic teen in the midst of a meltdown.  But, to show and feel compassion for white supremacists is not easy.

The healing way, is rarely the easy way.