Behind the Mask / Compassionate response

A couple weeks ago, Shaun Groves blogged about how his wife responded to conflict with a neighbor contrasted with how others in their cul-de-sac responded. Shaun wrote, “That night she called me. I was in a hotel room in Florida. It’s hard being away from her and the kids – harder still when anything goes wrong while I’m away. She told me what had been shouted at her and what she wished she’d said back. Have you ever had the perfect thing to say come to your mind way too late? I told her I thought she should call our neighbors and say every word of it. So she did. “This is Becky from next door,” she said. “I’m sorry things turned out the way they did. I’m not angry at you. I want you to know I had nothing to do with the police getting involved. We don’t handle things that way. I’d rather talk through things with you so if you want to talk please call me or I’ll catch you in the front yard sometime this week maybe and we can talk then. Let me know how I can make things right.””

Read the rest of Shaun’s story here. During interactions with my neighbors in the past week or two, it came to mind a couple of times, and I thought of it again this morning when I read a blog post from my uncle about a recent experience he had involving his boat. He writes about a conflict at the marina involving filling his water tank, and how he ended up handling it. His response was prompted by reading Walter Wink. He writes, “Wink proposes that nonviolence need not be submisssion to violence, nor a passive retreat from aggression or abuse, but rather should be an active, bold, initiatory striving for justice based on compassion. By responding to the anger and violence of others with a sharp, clear, bold yet nonviolent compassion, we can lay the basis for others to change their behavior, and we can learn how to change ourselves as well.” Here’s the link for his blog post.

So what would that “bold yet nonviolent compassion” look like if put into practice in our daily actions and attitudes? How would tomorrow be different? How does that inform the way I’ve acted today?

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