Dear Lois, Can compassion be a personal and political act?


We are all human and are going to make mistakes, both large and small. We aren’t always the best versions of ourselves. We have the capacity to cause damage to the people in our lives and to the planet. It is far easier to see faults in other people, especially politicians, because of the grief they can cause us personally and as a whole—but when we know what compassion feels like, it is infinitely easier to forgive those who oppress us.

Casting judgement is easy. Taking personal responsibility for the way you feel and how you respond takes courage. I know that I will cause painful experiences for myself and others as I navigate through life’s troubled waters. I trust that I always want to be the best Lois that I can be, and I believe
in myself.

Growth is uncomfortable for everyone, and sometimes what we thought was right was wrong, and vice versa. When we acknowledge this, we can have compassion for ourselves, and trust that we are doing our best, even if we say or do hurtful things out of a dark place. As Americans, we are collectively in a dark place. Give yourself a break, forgive yourself and recognize your humanity. You are more free to express your anger when you know your heart is in the right place.

I hear excuse after excuse when it comes to causing pain and refusing to engage in someone else’s suffering. Will the person or group who are in pain take advantage, or become reliant? Often people who are suffering are accused of not being strong enough to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Some say that skirting responsibility to someone in pain is an act of self-reliance. It’s extremely risky to explore pain. Pain can be violent, abusive and depressing, but it is where you find your own wisdom and how interconnected we all are.

I consider my conflicts and remember where I’ve come from, everything that I’ve learned about myself and the world. I ask myself if I am being the best Lois I can be, right now, in this moment. Is there malice, spite, hate, manipulation and disgust in my heart? No, there’s not. I don’t want to hurt anyone, and when I do, I feel terrible, like a failure and a part of the problem. I am extremely hard on myself to the point where I wear the pain of the oppressor and the oppressed and quickly forget who I am. Still, there is no malice, just a hurt little girl who acted out and needs a hug.

Illustration by Lois Volta
Illustration by Lois Volta

In the exploration of my pain, I learn about the uncharted catacombs of self-
compassion and its reflection: Love. Not everyone wants to explore compassion, it’s too hard and goes way too deep—far too risky for the weak-hearted. But when I see the little girl inside me, give her a hug, and tell her what to do, I understand my own suffering through the eyes of compassion. We are all stunted children living in a world gone wrong.

This does not mean that we shouldn’t throw dishes and draw lines in the sand. Women should never be raped, and Black Lives Matter. I can be passionately true to myself, my beliefs and still be loving and compassionate. It’s up to us to find out what is causing our pain, because it’s most likely causing pain for someone else, and you don’t want to dilute the bigger message by misdirecting your rage. You should care about this. Stop being toxic to others when your heart is true. Explore your pain, and clean it up. Draw the lines so you can heal the way you have to.

As individuals we all feel like there is enough on our shoulders, but we have to start caring about the people who are suffering right in front of us. Address your own pain like a patient, loving parent and learn what you need to do to feel safe and heal. When we are healthy, we can extend a hand to someone else, whose little girl inside might be scared and angry.

We know that this is good, and works, because we have felt it for ourselves. We know that others’ pain is their own, but we have the power to be a loving influence. It is a choice to do this work, and it is not easy. We can forgive, so we all rise. We can drop what has been holding us back, and rise like a buoy from the depths of treasured oceans.

We have to decide what side of the vote we stand on during this upcoming election. Many people vote on what they think the “right thing to do” is, but that has failed us in our broken system. We see where we have come from, and it’s sinking in how terrible it has gotten. We have to fix it, get serious and address the pain. We can then start to understand the mad, abused and forsaken. It is this path, the thorny path, that will save our country.

We need leaders who speak for the suffering, oppressed and poor. Vote for the leaders who hail compassion and love over fear and hate. When we overcome, we will connect through our joy, and however hard the journey was, it was worth it.

Lois Volta is a home consultant, musician and founder of Volta Naturals. loisvolta.com. Send questions to thevoltaway@gmail.com.

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