After reading the latest post from asobermiracle, Day 75: Returning to the Scene of the Crime, I started thinking about compassion and empathy.
It’s so easy for us-well me at least-to be immediately judgmental over something. It happens on Facebook all the time. Someone posts something, which is usually only part of the story and people press like immediately. I’ve been guilty of that-only to get into the article and realize it is nothing that I would want to support or “like”.
One recent example of this is what happened here in the US a few weeks ago when a child had entered the enclosure that housed a gorilla. The zookeepers shot the gorilla in order to rescue the child. Did that set off a controversy! People accusing the parents of neglect and the zookeepers of murder. I’ll be honest, I was siding with those views. Until, I read a couple of posts written by people who had actually spent much of their lives working with gorillas. One of those people being Jane Goodall. She pointed out that none of us were there. She also pointed out how easy it is, in a split second of distraction to lose sight of a small child (or a pet-which I have done). She also said how quickly people took to the internet and “raised their digital pitchforks” in judgement. All in all, it was a devestating situation for all involved. Harambe lost his life. The zookeeper had to make a horrible split second decision-killing an animal that he was attached to and had loved. The parents, while maybe not neglectful, must have experienced some guilt. And, who knows if or how the child will be shaped by this as he grows up.
More recently, is the 2 year old that was dragged away by an alligator and killed. Again, people are extremely quick to judge the parents over this. The family was staying at a 5 star Disney resort catering to families. While there were signs warning of no swimming due to a steep drop-off in the lake-there was nothing that said there were alligators in the lake that will kill. This was a lake at a resort. If the lake is used for boating, it should be fenced off with access allowed only to boaters. You can say yes, the parents were to blame for letting the child paddle around in the water-but the kid wasn’t swimming. Even so, what kind of hell and life long torture will that family go through replaying that scene of the child being dragged away by a alligator for the rest of their lives?
What was touching to me about A Sober Miracle’s post is that she made the effort to delve into the story of the woman that drank, became drunk, drove and ultimately killed someone. And while the family of the victim wants whatever is the the toughest sentence there is in that state, A Sober Miracle uncovered some things that maybe shaped the person that the driver became.
I live in a state that has not only Capital Punishment, but the highest number of executions in the country. The families of the victims are allowed to watch. Barbaric isn’t it? I often wonder what these families get by watching an execution. Does it take away their grief? Does it give them closure? Do they walk out and resume a normal, joyful life? I have serious doubts about that. To be clear, I am in no way saying that people should be allowed to get away with murder. But the underlying psychology of WHY needs to be considered.
I don’t know about everyone else that has or has had a drinking problem-I can only speak for myself. And what I do know is that compassion has to start with me-for me. I had to learn to show compassion to myself. I don’t know anyone in my life that has ever judged me harsher than I have judged myself. No one has been less forgiving of me than I have been of myself. It’s always been easier for me to forgive someone else’s indiscrestion than my own. I think a huge part of getting sober and staying sober is to not only learn to show ourselves love and compassion, but to try to understand what the underlying reasons are for why we started to drink and why we feel like that’s the only way we can operate in this big world. Allowing ourselves to feel compassion for the part of us that’s afraid to live without alcohol. Allowing ourselves to feel compassion for that part of us that are living in the hell that drinking creates. Forgiving ourselves for all of our past mistakes-forgiving ourselves for all of our failed Day Ones and false starts. Learning to forgive and find compassion for ourselves in spite of cringe worthy memories.
I mean we’re all human for God’s sake!