Will Hate Win?

Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we’ve suffered, to forgive the one who inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.

I sat with tears in my eyes as I watched the late news last night. I don’t normally watch because the stories always make me feel heavy. The weight of the world seems to settle on my shoulders as I wonder how, as a human race – setting aside race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation – but as a human race we have become so goddamned full of hate.

Then one by one, the family members of the victims’ in the Charleston, South Carolina church shooting stood in front of the man who murdered the people they loved and held dearest in their hearts, people they will never see, hear, or touch again…and they forgave him.

“I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her ever again. But I forgive you.”

“You hurt me, you hurt a lot of people. May God forgive you.”

“You have killed some of the most beautifulest people that I know… And it will never be the same. But as we said in Bible study, we enjoyed you. May God have mercy on you.”

“Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate…everyone’s plea for your soul is proof that they lived and loved and their legacies will live on…..Hate won’t win.”

Hate won’t win.

Those three words were the last I heard before I went to sleep last night and are still there this morning.  I want desperately to hold on to them, to believe them. I pray to a deity to which my belief wavers from day to day and I wonder if it’s possible.

How far gone are we as a race? As a human race?

I know there is good in the world. I see it every day. Sadly, I see far too much more hate and prejudice and it is no wonder I feel so tired. I have brought children into a world where they have to learn to hide under desks or in closets and locked, gated fences are put around elementary schools to keep out those who would do them harm. And for what?

Hate. Anger. Mental illness. Belief in a cause that resents our freedom.

We go to the movies, to church, to the grocery store….the simple act of driving a car down the freeway and these all become a crap shoot.

Kids are beat up and mentally tortured for being different, or just being themselves.

Husbands kill wives, wives kill husbands. They kill their own children in the heat of a moment to hurt one another.

Children are neglected and abused, going to bed hungry because we live in a society where getting rich and gaining power is more important than taking care of our fellow man, making sure familes are fed, clothed, and have a place to lay their head at night that doesn’t sit on four tires.

Evil preys on our children, both inside and outside the family, and it knows no boundaries.

There are so many, many more stories on the evening news and some we will never even hear about. Every moment, anger and hate are perpetuated and we are fully on guard every time something like Charleston happens. Or are we?

Has this become the new normal?

I despise the idea that this is a very large part of the world my children are growing up in.

What Dylan Roof did was wrong. It was evil personified. But what those family members of his victims did was goodness and mercy. I am sure they will be relieved to see justice served but in their own hearts today, I hope they find peace. They have done themselves a great service. They have fostered a spirit of love and forgiveness, turning from the perpetuation of hate and offering hope.

It doesn’t make the world perfect. There will still be prejudice and judgment, bullying and violence. I know, in all honesty, that if someone was to hurt someone I love, just the thought of it boils my blood and vengeance is the first thought I have.

Perhaps I was crying with a mixture of emotion, realizing that what these people were doing was monumental, but knowing in my heart I would never be able to do what they have done….offer forgiveness to someone who took someone so precious to me.

Obviously there should be forgiveness, if for no other reason than to rest our own weary souls and to teach the next generation that it can be done…that love, compassion, grace, and mercy do still exist on this messy planet.

Can we learn, as hard as it might be, to forgive?

Of course, this is not to be confused with forgetting or becoming complacent. But obviously, fighting back, not with vengeful, unnecessary violence, but forgiveness is possible.

Is this the way to learn as well as to teach that hate won’t win and  to begin healing a broken race?

Or are we too late?



Photo credit: flickr.com

Compassion Is Not Only a Noun – #1000 Speak

The dictionary defines compassion as a noun, sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. While I agree that compassion is fellow feeling, concern, kindness, humanity, tenderness, mercy, and love, I don’t take to the word pity.

While the general emotions are, in fact, nouns I tend to believe that the word compassion is also a verb.

To pity is to feel sorry for.

Compassion is doing something about it.

Compassion is an act. It is going out of your way, or maybe not so far out at all, to help another human being who is suffering emotionally, spiritually, or physically.

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. ~ Dalai Lama

Identifying with another person is an essential process for human beings.  If you translate compassion literally, it means “to suffer together.” It is a process. When you can feel empathy for a person in a difficult time are you not more motivated to do something in an effort to make things better? You feel this person’s pain. Perhaps the situation is different, but you know from experience the emotional turmoil and suffering beneath and you want to DO SOMETHING.

In this doing of something to right the wrong you not only make the much needed human connection but you enlighten and improve not only the life of someone else, but your own as well.

Acts of compassion do not need to move mountains. It can be as simple as a look to a mother with a difficult child that doesn’t show aggravation or pity. You offer her understanding and tell her it’s okay. In that moment you have offered her strength and motivation. You have offered yourself the opportunity to make the world a better place in that small time and space.

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them. ~ Dalai Lama

Imagine if everyone committed to one small act of unsolicited and unconditional compassion:

  • running an errand for a sick friend
  • holding the hand of an elderly person who is ill
  • listening to a co-worker who recently lost a loved on
  • offering the use of your cell phone to a stranded stranger
  • helping the person in the grocery line without quite enough money

These are actions within the realm of possibility every single day for someone, somewhere. Add all of these together and these tiny moments become momentous. Huge. Life changing.

For all of us.

Do not turn away. Do not close your eyes to an opportunity to reach out and make the world a better place, in even the smallest way, for another person. In taking that measure, you not only improve the life of another, but your own as well.

Which brings me to what may be the hardest compassionate steps to take. Compassion toward our selves.

Have you spent your life being told you are not good enough? Not smart enough? Not thin enough? Not pretty enough?

I call bullshit.

We are all good enough.

We are all smart enough.

We are all beautiful.

Speak to yourself the way you would speak to someone else feeling the same hurt. This can break the pattern of pain and change everything.

I read a quote a while back that said “Without suffering there would be no compassion.”

In a perfect world.

But we need to be realistic. This is, and likely always will be, an imperfect world. There will be suffering.

So let there be compassion.

Listen with intention. Support and understand the best you can. In those moments, see a life change. Feel your heart change. This is compassion.
This is love.

~Sandy Ramsey

1000 speak

This post is just a small part of a movement to bring compassion to light. This is the way we prefer to break the internet. To read more beautiful, powerful words from some incredible writers please click the picture above, share some of these posts, and become part of #1000Speak.




photo credit: 365::47 – poetry in my life via photopin (license)

Burning Down the House

In a week where compassion is the topic on everyone’s mind, I was somewhat reluctant to write these words. This hesitation only lasted for a moment. You see, I write from my heart, sometimes my head has no say, and when I hear or read a story that shouts to me OUT LOUD I just cannot be quiet. If I have a strong reaction to something I feel a sense of duty to myself to let the words loose on the page rather than to allow them an opportunity to smolder and singe my soul.

The interpretation of these words will be left to the individual reader. Some will say it is about closure. Some will say it is about revenge. Others might even venture to the outer realms and consider this about compassion or lack thereof. I may come under fire, seeming a hypocrite for recently posting about non-judgment although I was referring to less despicable acts.

I guess we shall see.

I remember the story of  seven year old Somer Thompson very well. She lived in Orange Park, Florida, about three hours from where I live so the story was all over the local news. Making it more personal for me was the fact that my own daughter had just turned seven years old.

In October of 2009 Somer was walking home from school with her twin brother, her sister, and a friend when she got into an argument with another child, walked off ahead of the other kids and wasn’t seen again until two days later when her body was found in a landfill in Georgia, 50 miles away.

On her walk home she passed a house. In that house was a 24 year old predator, a child molester and pornographer, who lived with his parents. This piece of garbage was found in Mississippi where he was being held for charges in child pornography.

In February 2012, after being tried on 14 counts of molestation and producing child pornography, he stood trial for multiple charges in Somer’s murder. He would escape the deserved death penalty by accepting a plea deal. In exchange for not appealing the sentence, he will spend the rest of his days in prison without the possibility of parole. I personally hope, without regret, he is being served a special brand of justice.

This week I came across a news story that caught, and held, my attention. The home where he lived with his parents that Somer was lured into and murdered was in foreclosure and was purchased by the Somer Thompson Foundation which was started by Somer’s mother, Diena. She donated the house to the Orange Park Fire Department for training exercises.

Last week, on February 12th, as part of a live training exercise, Dieana Thompson tossed a live flare into the house and watched the house where her daughter’s life ended burn to the ground.

“I get to burn their house down,” Thompson said. “I’m the big bad wolf this time knocking down your door, not the other way around. It’s really nice to know that I’m not ever going to have to drive in this neighborhood again and see this piece of trash.” – Diena Thompson

I know this act will never bring her daughter back but I do hope it brought this mother some level of closure. To destroy the place where evil reared its head and took up residence may have symbolically destroyed the evil itself to some extent. But was it enough?

I can only imagine that there can be no greater pain than to lose a loved one, most especially a child, to disgusting and inhuman violence.

Actually I can’t. I cannot make my mind go to that place because I know it is much more terrible than the worst nightmare I have ever had. I know that if I give myself even a nanosecond to think about it the first words that comes to my mind are an eye for an eye.

I consider myself a rational and compassionate person. I know right from wrong and the thought of taking another human life is an abhorrent one. I can say the words ‘I could just kill you’ in the zero-probability sense because it just isn’t something I would ever really do. I cannot fathom what happens in a person’s mind that allows them to commit homicide.

Until I think, in that nanosecond, that someone hurts one of my children. In that same nanosecond, I can see myself becoming a real life monster slayer. I see red and rage and death.

A lot can go through my head in a nanosecond, no?

The reality is I would think about it. I might even go so far as to plan it. But would I do it? I can’t help but wonder.

I think about Diena Thompson throwing that flare into that house. Did she wish silently that her daughter’s killer had been inside that house?

I know I would have.

I am not an overly political person. I don’t have a passionate view on the death penalty. I also lean more toward the spiritual rather than religious. I won’t debate translation of the Bible with anyone as I don’t believe, even after years of Baptist schooling,  I know enough to make an intelligent argument. No statement in this post is being made to hit a political or religious target.

Here is what I do believe:

Some people endure upbringings that bring them to the blurred edge of human vs. animal. Some people are born with missing pieces that make them unable to control urges that bring them to the same blurred edge. Sometimes people cross that line and do things that no one ever has the right to do to another human being, adult or child. I believe that the people who do commit these repulsive acts should be relieved of their place in society with the rest of us. One way or another. Period.

I can find no compassion in my heart for this man or anyone like him.

My compassion lies with the Thompson family, and I wish them peace.

And to Somer’s rapist and murderer, may you find fresh hell every day for the rest of your life.