I was staffing an NWTA when news of the terrorist attacks in Paris penetrated our container. All of us on staff were shaken and concerned for our brothers in France; men who’d served in the Armed Forces were triggered in various ways, and we generally agreed that these events underscored the need for our work to “heal the world one man at a time.”
The reaction outside the NWTA container was, unfortunately, predictable – politicians rushed to make political capital out of the tragedies, and there was a wave of (by no means unanimous) anti-refugee rhetoric.
What does this have to do with our work in MKP? In my judgment, a key element of our work is compassion. And not just compassion as a feeling, but compassion in action. We say that everything a man brings – his gold, his shadow, his pain – is welcome in our circle. Einstein said
This delusion [of separation] is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living things and the whole of nature in its beauty.
I’ll own that I have no compassion for the terrorists – I guess I’m just not that evolved yet – but I do feel compassion for the refugees who are fleeing from them, and I am impatient with those who evoke fear that something terrible might happen if we let them in. Sure, it’s possible that terrorists might disguise themselves as refugees, but if we let that stop us from aiding those who need it we sacrifice thousands to guard against what I judge to be a very few. No one can sneak across the Atlantic on a raft to get here as people do to get from Syria into Europe – our borders are far less porous than those of France, yet just after the attacks, France announced they would accept 30,000 Syrian refugees.
Too often, we in the United States have failed to live up to our ideal of compassion – in race relations, relations with our GLBTQ brothers and sisters, the environment, and more. It’s my view that we, as awake men, must be among those who lead the way in the USA being the compassionate nation we have always tried to be.