I expect negative comments. Every writer should. Critiques can either make you stop writing or serve to instruct you. Usually I take them as instruction and try to learn from them. Today’s negative one about compassion, though, caught me off guard. Who could find fault with compassion?
Look up synonyms for compassion and you will see such positive words like sympathy, empathy, kindness, concern, and caring. How could someone find fault with encouraging others to be compassionate? Apparently, the answer to that is…easily.
I realize that my proofreading of my own writing is abysmal, mainly because I tend to forego it. I write as I think and my typing skills are not as quick as my thoughts. I do reread old posts and I do cringe at the errors but thankfully, they seldom if ever prevent the content from being understood. So, my first thought was to edit the post on compassion. Did I make a huge typo error?
It turns out that there were no real mistakes in that post. The commenter really did not like the core verb – compassion. Also in the book “My Neighbor’s Faith”, a collection of stories gathered and written by Jennifer Howe Peace, Or N. Rose, and Gregory Mobley that I referenced in the post on compassion, is another essay written by Jim Wallis. Wallis is the founder and CEO of Sojourners, a group termed “an intentional community” that has grown into a national faith=based community. Wallis himself is married to one of the first women ordained in the Church of England and is a New York Times bestselling author, public theologian, speaker, and international commentator on ethics and public life. He recently served on the White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and was former vice chair of and currently serves on the Global Agenda Council on Values of the World Economic Forum. His latest book was published in 2016.
In his essay Wallis brings up three really important questions. Does our judgement of our neighbors come from their religious labels or the content of their character? Do we believe in freedom for our own religion or freedom of religion? In the face of global terrorism, who wins when the USA restricts religious freedom?
As a child of the 50’s and 60’s growing up in the “Deep South” of the U.S., I did not just read about the Ku Klux Klan, I saw them. Every single one of them claimed to be devout Christians, deeply conservative. They murdered in the name of their God. Innocent children were bombed as they sat in their church, a church of the same denomination as many of those in the KKK.
My post about compassion was in direct response to world events and the political ranting of some politicians within the past few months. It was a plea for people to realize that how they live their beliefs will determine the future much more readily and with greater intent than the actions of any terrorist. Our response to any group trying to use their brand of faith to justify the killing or refusal to help the innocent is vital. In the concluding line of his essay, Wallis says it all – “It is a test of our character, and we dare not fail it.”
Strike out at me if you will. I will not lose my faith and retaliate. My faith requires me to be a peacemaker and to love my neighbors, especially when we are not in agreement. Today I will strike out against ignorance, not another human being.