The headlines are filled with events that often evoke moral outrage. The other evening a friend was conveying his disgust with the recently exposed Anthony Weiner’s moral character. While his outrage is an honest expression of what he feels, he was left in a state of frustration. “Can’t we demand that our elected leaders have high moral standards?” or “Do we have to accept that ‘boys will be boys?’”
The apparent choices seem to be either disgust with the values of our leaders or, ignoring their indiscretions. This puts us in the position of being at the effect of someone else’s behavior. We are forced to accept bad behavior as “normal” and thus lower our expectations of leaders or live in a state of outrage.
The suffering in this situation is plentiful. Yet, the only suffering any of us can address is that which is in our own consciousness: wanting the world situation to be different than it is. And who does not want that? But the truth is that living in a state of wanting has the constant side effect of frustration. And, this frustration hurts us, and does not help the situation.
There is a way out.
When we do not like what we are seeing there is an urge to stop it. Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” He was addressing this human tendency to blame and punish the person who is offending us. The truth is that it is not the “person” who is offending.
Being offended is our reaction to what we are seeing. We may hate the behavior we are seeing, yet have we not in some way, at some time, done something below our own standard of behavior? In other words, who can throw the first stone?
Metapsychiatry suggests that it is possible to cultivate compassion – the understanding that there is a lack of understanding.
Instead of judging an offending person or accepting bad behavior we can learn something and perhaps heal something.
We can realize that we are all here to learn and grow from our mistakes. This neither condones nor condemns but sees that some behaviors do not lead to good.
The good news is that the purpose of life is to wake up. And, waking up begins when we see that it is possible to have compassion for our selves and others.