Lessons in Compassion and Wisdom

Looking back today, seven years after the 9/11 attacks, I fear that if we have learned anything meaningful from that horrible day, we certainly have not put that knowledge into action.

What we have instead put into action are the same reactions we have relied upon since time began – reactions of violent revenge, an eye for an eye.

We seem doomed to those reactions, incapable of outgrowing the parts of our brains that we share with every other beast on this planet – reacting to violence with violence, reacting from fear.

We are humans.  Our gifts, unique to us in all the world, include reason and compassion and wisdom.  Yet we react as my dog might react when confronted by an enemy. Our extraordinary human gifts never even enter the decision-making picture.

And so, in honor of today’s remembrances, I want to share two videos that are gripping, loving, encouraging.  The first is from someone who has become a hero to me.  It is a powerful reminder that it is possible to react from wisdom rather than hatred.

And after that, the remedy. The joy. The sense of what is possible.

In the words of the Buddha, “Hate never stopped hate. Only love stops hate.”

So on this September 11, and from this day forward, can we vow to respond to hatred with love?  Can we be compassionate to those we feel deserve it the least?  Can we think beyond reaction, to consider root causes of the violence we identify as evil?  Can we defend ourselves preventatively, so we do not have to reactively destroy others?

Can we at least try?

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