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Not My Enemy

A photo looking out over Lake Superior at sunset, in blues, blacks, and pinks. Picnic Rocks, Marquette, Michigan.
Sunset, Picnic Rocks, Marquette, MI, Photo by Dr. Katie Deaver

“We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.”

—Jimmy Carter 

“As we develop compassion, our hearts open.”

—Sharon Salzberg

If we could sit down with people and listen to their stories—setting aside our religious, political, racial, ethnic, gender, sexual, and cultural differences—we would discover that we have all experienced loss.

If someone has lost a child, that person deeply grieves. If someone has lost a spouse, a parent, a sibling, or a friend, that person mourns.

Our hearts hurt when the people we love die. Our hearts hurt when we see suffering in our families, in our communities, and in the world. We extend compassion because we care and because we are all part of this human family, despite the hurts we inflict upon one another.

We don’t have to make enemies of the people who are different from us—or with the people who disagree with us. That doesn’t mean we don’t hold individuals (or groups) accountable for actions that harm others. It also doesn’t mean we tolerate unacceptable behavior, from anyone. We can be loving individuals while also establishing healthy boundaries and enforcing appropriate consequences as needed.

But perhaps, if we soften our hearts, we can learn how to be more centered in kindness, forgiveness, and love during our daily human interactions. We might even learn to set aside longstanding grievances over land, politics, or religion and instead work for the sake of something larger, something that helps all people who share our planet.

Perhaps we could ask: Is there a spiritual solution here that would benefit the next generation of children? If we could answer that question, what would we do differently?

As we enter the holiday season, what in your heart needs healing? What in your heart needs compassion or forgiveness? What in your heart needs to change? 

 

Peace & Love,

Diana Ensign

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