Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Paradox of Cruelty and Compassion

Mary Queen of Scots (1542 – 1587), having been born to the throne, was favoured through her childhood development, yet her contemporary, Queen Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603), was horribly treated, due to religious and political adversities, through her formative years.  Mary made a terrible, entitled queen who was thrown off the throne by her own people.  Elizabeth was a special queen who loved her people so much, her faithfulness to them suggested they were an extension of her own family.
The narrative of these two monarch’s lives is a litany of paradox.  One had life easier and had the capacity to be cruel, whilst the other had an arduous early life and became better for it.  This phenomenon isn’t depicted in every life situation, for many people who’ve had charmed lives are charming people, and many people who’ve been kicked around by the school of hard knocks are cynical.
Here’s the typical thing.  We ignore the hurts of others, most especially so when our own needs are taken care of.  But when we’ve suffered some horrible injustices we can develop an enhanced empathic capacity; the blessing outbound of brokenness, if we can transcend the temptation to bitterness that leads to cynicism.  Especially if there is some source of love we can draw hope from.
Then there is a truth that floors us suddenly: when we have all of life together — or we think we do — we’re only a moment from setting ourselves above the next person.  The moment we do that in our minds, even before we speak, we begin to think of those people as ‘those people’:
“We are ‘those people.’ The truth is… we are the others.  Most of us are one paycheck, one divorce, one drug-addicted kid, one mental health diagnosis, one serious illness, one sexual assault, one drinking binge, one night of unprotected sex, or one affair away from being “those people” — the ones we don’t trust, the ones we pity, the ones we don’t let our children play with, the ones bad things happen to, the ones we don’t want living next door.”
— Brené Brown
Sometimes when life is cruel God is amplifying our capacity for compassion.  We learn that we’re only one moment of life’s cruelness away from being humbled for God’s purposes.  Sometimes having life easy isn’t the best way to live.  We miss out on being exposed to the elements of reality.  We miss out on the fullness of life, which is sometimes indwelt with hardship and pain.
It’s an oft cruel life, but when life is cruel God helps by proving within us resilience.
Resilience and compassion.  Two budding hopes to push on through for when life is tough.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.

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