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Compassion


"Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought."

The human mind is so incredibly complex.  It never ceases to fascinate me.  Why do people feel the way they do?  What makes them say and do the things they do?  How can two people experience the same stimulus and have extremely differing interpretations of that stimulus?

I've posted a lot of things lately that have received extremely negative responses.  As I have stated before, I am not an antagonist.  I do not post things for the sole purpose of aggravating or offending people.  As I stated in my most recent blog post, I only post such things because I have such a strong desire to know, understand, and share the truth.  But, with all of the feedback I have been getting, I have to ask myself what my priorities are.  Obviously there are those who angry at things that I have said, and there are those that are hurt.  Shall I continue, in my stubbornness, to post things in the interest of declaring truth even when I see that it causes such reactions among my friends?  I have to admit, I don't know the right answer to that question--or even if there is a right answer.

But, my little brother and I had a good discussion via text message after a debate on my Facebook wall that started to get rather heated.  He asked a question that made me really think: what is my purpose in sharing the things that I share?  I want nothing more than to be understood.  I want to share with other people that which is in my heart.  I want to express what I have been feeling inside.  Why have I been so prickly in doing so?  I don't know.  Perhaps because it is human nature.

What is it about being understood that is so compelling?  Why do I care that other people understand what's going on in my brain and in my heart?  Why does anyone care about that?  Perhaps because we are social creatures who like to have some sort of commonality with those we associate with.  Whatever the reason, I do not deny that one of my greatest desires is to have others understand who I am, how I feel, and how I see the world.  Is it to make other people agree with me?  No, but it is nice when other people do agree because it makes them seem less alien and more friendly.  Do I care whether people agree with me?  Certainly.  I have stated otherwise in the past, but deep down inside, I really do care.  I want to be validated.  Who doesn't?

Why have so many of my posts been met with such opposition?  I can think of a few reasons.  I will start with those that incriminate me and then move to others that might imply fault in other people.  I have not been clear in the motivation for these posts.  Part of the reason for that is that I don't fully understand my motivation myself.  I thought that being a crusader of truth was my motivation, but when it comes down to the real issue, I don't care so much whether I'm right or wrong.  I don't care who's right or wrong.  That's just my pride speaking when I say that I need to be right in all things.  What do I really care about?  I care about connecting in real, meaningful ways with other human beings.  I care about sharing deep emotional experiences with my loved ones.  I care about enriching the relationships that I share with others.  So, when I have presented things in the past, I have done so with an air of "this is right and you'd better listen to me", which I admit is rather affronting.

Another reason, I believe, is that people naturally tend to react to stimuli in a manner related to the nature of the stimulus.  If someone gets mad at me, my first reaction is to get mad at them.  If they apologize to me, my reaction is to apologize to them.  If they smile at me, my reaction is to smile at them.  Neurologists have recently shown that this is due to neurons in our brain called "mirror neurons".  This is how babies learn to talk and walk and everything else.  When we see a stimulus, our brain literally mimics that experience.  So, when I see anger, I actually feel anger.  Therefore, if any of my posts were confrontational, they will be met with confrontation.  It actually takes a good deal of conscious effort to overcome this natural reaction.  In fact, meditation and other similar methods can be useful to that end, but for most people a good deal of such training is necessary in order to achieve real results to that end.

I think one more thing that may be a contributing factor is hypersensitivity.  The word "critical" means " expressing or involving an analysis of the merits and faults of a work of literature, music, or art".  However, more often than not, it has a negative connotation--that the person being critical is also passing judgment of some sort on the thing which is being analyzed.  I believe this connotation is indicative of the human tendency to perceive an analysis not as an objective analysis, but as an attack on one's own beliefs and opinions.  Therefore, even in cases when my posts have been objective, since they include statements that are critical of people's religious beliefs--beliefs which many hold very dear to their hearts--they feel that I am threatening those beliefs in some way: that I am either condemning or ridiculing those beliefs or the people who believe them, or that I have an intent to persuade others to believe the way I do.  Therefore, they feel a need to defend themselves and their beliefs from the perceived attack.  I have witnessed this many times in the recent past.  Also, I have taken feedback from other people more harshly than it was meant--in other words, I have interpreted the criticism of others as being malicious in cases where it was not intended so to be.

In many of my posts I have asserted that I wish to be compassionate--to help others and to spread love and peace.  In this post, I ask for compassion.  I have been hurt greatly.  Some may think that I've been hurt by the things that happened with me in regards to the church at the time I came out of the closet, but this is not the case.  I understand that the church has its standards and that my local leaders were merely upholding those standards.  Since I respect the church and its standards, I resigned my membership.  No offense was committed against me on the part of my bishop, my stake president, or any other person in my local ward.  The hurt that I feel inside is due instead to the realization that I have recently come to that the church has misrepresented itself, and that I went my entire life naively believing everything the church told me and trusting that it would let me know things that I have since found out it has been covering up.  I have tried to share these things with people here, on my other blog, and on Facebook.  I meant to do so in the least offensive or controversial way possible, but obviously I have failed in that goal.

For those who are too wounded by what I have said, I sincerely apologize for causing those wounds.  I do not apologize for what I have said nor what has transpired because of it, since I believe that good has come of it.  But, I do apologize for the pain caused.  I expose to you all of my scars, in the hopes that there is one among you who is a physician.  I cannot trust the church any longer because of the findings I have made.  I say this not to offend any who have faith in this church, but because I seek solace from the pain I feel.  I have been betrayed.  I have been taken advantage of.  I have stupidly allowed myself to be abused.  If you cannot understand my position, that's okay, but please don't attack me for holding it.  I can't take any more attacks right now.  I have grown weary of all of the fighting I have caused recently.  I do not glory in anger or contention.  I hate it.  It disgusts me and it disgusts me that I participate in it so fully.

I believe that not only is it possible, but it is beneficial to have mature, objective debates about any subject on which two people disagree.  However, I have not been successful in staying objective.  I have not been successful in staying mature.  And the same can be said for some who have replied to my comments.  I wave a flag of truce.  My wounds are too great and I cannot continue this battle.  The balm I have is lost or insufficient for my needs.  Perhaps there is some I can share with others who have wounds, but I cannot heal myself.  As arrogant as I am, I thought that I could.
Who am I to judge another,
When I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden
Sorrow that the eye can't see.

I would be my brother's keeper,
I would learn the healer's art.
To the wounded and the weary,
I would show a gentle heart.

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