compassion

Oneing; Our Undeniable Kinship

There is so much talk about how divided, tribal, isolated and separate we are becoming.  At a time when science, technology and authentic religion point to our obvious interconnected oneness, voices cry out that there must be some kind of mistake. But there is no mistake. We are all cut from the same cloth.  We are kin, woven together with everything and everybody.

The problem with accepting the truth of our undeniable kinship is that it is always followed by a sense of civil responsibility.  It is far easier to go with the lie of separateness.  When we recognize brothers and sisters in one another, there comes a call to compassionate action restorative justice, and mercy. It no longer makes sense to hate, to seek retribution or to find a scapegoat.  Good families work together to find solutions for differences because our relationships have a firm foundation of love.

"We carry the whole world in our hearts, the oppression of all people, the suffering of our friends, the burdens of our enemies, the raping of the earth, the hunger of the starving, the joyous expectation every laughing child has a right to." ~ Sister Joan Chittister

It wasn't until I discovered the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) that the full realization of my oneness with the struggles of others really hit me. Although my lifework had been working with children who suffered unimaginable abuse, none of my counsel seemed to apply to me or connected to my own woundedness. Forced by the consequences of drowning my sorrows in booze, I stumbled into AA. It was a remarkable experience. Men and women freely and intimately joined in a common oneness surrounding their most devastating tragedies. They forged an alliance and healing community. I left with a sense that everyone on the planet should join AA whether they ever had a drinking problem or not. The result for me was that I became a better counselor and a better human being.

This acceptance and acting out of our undeniable kinship is often referred to as "oneing", a term first used by Julian of Norwich in the fifteenth century. Bill Wilson and AA figured it out in the 1940s. Once pursued, nothing short of it will ever satisfy you again. When fully embraced it will change your life and it will change the world.

An Inconvenient Truth

“The call to the margins, led by those we find there, is exhilarating and life-giving and renews our nobility and purpose.  For this, we all long. The time is now, as never before, to put terror and defense to one side and find our human connections on the margins.” ~ Gregory Boyle (Founder of Homeboys Industries)

It isn’t more power, more prosperity, more armaments or closed borders we need. None of these things will give us long-term security.  None of these things will keep us safe. We become more vulnerable to destruction from within when we isolate from ‘the other’ in self-woven cocoons.  Instead, we need to reach out for the hand of those on the margins, those who are broken, and those who understand how interdependent we really are. We go to the marginalized not to make a difference but for them to make us different.

Martin Luther King called us to serve “the last, the least, and the lost.” Jesus instructs us to include not exclude as he invites tax collectors and prostitutes to his table.  He tells us “that which you do to the least of my brothers, so you do unto me.”  Buddha dedicated his entire life for the cause of others, for the uplift of humanity at large. He was the first to revolt against the caste system which was firmly rooted in the soil of India. One of the great reforms that the Prophet Muhammad brought was the rights and treatment of the poor. And so we struggle with an inconvenient truth.  We must drop our moral outrage and pick up compassion in its place. When we do that wonderful things will begin to happen in our lives and in our world.

Justice, Mercy and Compassion

by Robert Kenneth Jones

“Fill the seats of justice
With good men, not so absolute in goodness
As to forget what human frailty is. ~ Thomas Noon Talfourd
How easy it is to judge those who annoy us and those who break the rules!  Of course, this is not some new phenomenon.  Human beings have been doing it since the beginning of time.  But today, we have made the judgment game a sensational and salacious sport.
The 24-hour cable news’ programs are engaged in continual finger pointing and disdain of opposing points of view. They practically seduce us into paying attention and implore us to take sides.  We soon identify ourselves as virtuous and the other as unethical or evil.  We become engrossed when the powerful are mired in scandal and revile the outcast or marginalized who continue to cause trouble.  We become self-appointed judges, juries and executioners. 
“Pray that we might allow God to show us that compassion, mercy and forgiveness are far better than judgment.” ~ Drew Filkins
The people who are suffering and need our compassion and mercy the most too often receive our biased judgment. But who am I, and who are we, to judge? Consider the plight of our own personal brokenness.  
Each of us has made plenty of mistakes.  None of us will escape destructive patterns of behavior which, if scrutinized, could cause us to be condemned in one way or another. If we scorn those who suffer from addiction, ridicule those who have fallen into low places, criticize the homeless, blame the victims, or cast out the mentally ill, what are we doing but selfishly indulging misguided righteousness?Rather than offering mercy and compassion, we strike a blow of intolerance.  Perhaps it is really the scorned, broken and wounded spirits within us which are crying out for forgiveness.

Banner photo by Phillip LeConte

Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

Mindfulness For Everyday Peace; How meditation, prayer and contemplation are shaping our world

Mindfulness is a psychological state of heightened moment-to-moment awareness through specific practices and disciplines such as meditation and contemplative prayer.  It is about achieving a state of mind that is centered in the present and devoid of judgment (the past) and worry (the future).