Compassion is the Only Antidote to Cynicism, Fear and Cowardice

Almost a year ago, I was so upset at unfair attacks being lobbied at my Palestinian partners at OneVoice. As they were gaining more and more prominence for their work to achieve a two state solution, those who opposed them within Palestine tried to discredit them based on a smear campaign revolving around questioning their patriotism.  I was filled with hatred.

I blogged back then how I realized this and fought it and literally forced myself to disavow that hatred and even work around my emotions to literally stop hating and actually start caring for those who I was most hateful towards.  OneVoice, the Movement, rose to do the same.

If I hadn’t gone through such a tough period, I would never have written these lines, and reading them would have made me gag for their cheesiness.  I don’t consider myself a "leftist" or a "pacifist", just an ordinary human being who recognizes that the betterment of humanity and of one’s ethnic, religious or national compatriots comes from understanding the shared humanity they have with their neighbors and rivals – getting both sides to recognize the essential human needs and rights of the other, and working together to achieve them.

But something happens when you get so close to the abyss, when your anger at a sense of injustice leads you to feel unrelenting hatred that you had not felt before, that you literally discover a new negative dimension you didn’t know you had – and do not like having.  And this scary discovery also affords you the possibility to fight that hatred back, to ensure you don’t become that which you are trying to fight, to grow from the challenge. 

When I meditated back then, I couldn’t put it into words – to be earnest, it certainly was not "love" – but I did achieve a sense of empathy with even these former "enemies" that had attacked my partners.

Earlier today I was struck when Frederic Brenner shared that "compassion is the only antidote to cynicism and cowardice."  Looking back, THIS was the feeling that gave me the strength to find myself again, to extricate myself from within so much hatred I had created, and to rescue the mission.  COMPASSION. 

Indeed, compassion is an antidote to cynicism – and to fear, and to hatred.  It is the antonym of hatred, more than love is.  You don’t need to "love" your "enemy." But if you have compassion towards all others, even those who offend you most – no, particularly towards those who offend you most – then you will be able to find the way.

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