Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, July 23, 2008
If one is cruel to himself, how can we expect him
to be compassionate with others?
- Hasdai Ibn Shaprut (10th C AD)
Self hate. Many many people are roiling with it. I often see peoples’ Shadow in their face, their self-hate manifesting itself in unrestrained aggression against others. Now and then, to my horror, I feel it my face and have to bring it to my consciousness so I can deal with it. Religions and cultures can have self-hate too. And it seems to me that we are in a vortex in the World today of the acting out of self-hate turned outward.
Alas, many religions develop and encourage and teach self-hate. I can’t speak too expertly about other religions, but Christianity has been rife with it in its many forms. I think it must stem from the almost inherent dualism, that separation of the “flesh” and the “spirit”, with the assumption that Evil stems from the flesh and from the “satisfying” of it’s “desires”. We see it in saints flagellating themselves until they bleed. Mel Gibson projected his self-hate onto Christ in that disgusting movie he made. The shocking addiction to both violent behaviour (war, gangs) and vicarious participation in it (movies, TV) around the globe just tells me that self-hate, wherever it came from, has overwhelmed us. And, as Shaprut says, if we hate ourselves and treat ourselves cruelly, how can we expect compassion towards others?
I have said it before and I will say it again ( and my own personal struggle with being Gay led me to this blessing) : There is only one standard for how we think of ourselves and how we treat others. It is the unconditional love of God, manifesting itself in tenderness, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance of our human frailty, unfailing desire to give strength and hope.
So-called “freedom through victory”, interior or exterior, lasts only “for a night”. The only way to true freedom is through Justice and Compassion. No cruelty is Godly. We love ourselves as God loves us. And then compassion pours out towards others. Peace, personal or global, lies no where else. Even in the midst of the hell we have created for ourselves now, we had better start building a new foundation for the human community. Put your vote to those who see this vision.