Compassion and Binaries

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Binaries have caused so much harm in my life. Good versus Bad. Black versus White. Short versus Tall. Fat versus skinny. You get the picture. Most people do not fit into one box. Binaries are created to separate and exclude. Yet our brains love them. So much!

Do you realize that to hold space in you for Compassion to flourish, you have to live in the “grey” area, so to speak? And not in the “Black” or “White” of the binary? Something deep in us instinctively wants firm lines so we know where we righteously stand, and we can trust that our “good” will outweigh “the other” as bad.

But it does not work like that. No.

How do we tend to this instinct that really does not serve us? By focusing on our common humanity and our deep interconnectedness with each other as human beings. My favorite African principle is “Ubuntu” which says, “I am because we are.” There is no me without you. That is the bottom line. When I look into your eyes, my humanity is reflected back to me. So, I need others to connect with and be in community with and remember that we have so much more in common than we will ever have different.

I am deeply conflicted about the hurt in the world today. I ache for stories from both sides of the fence. I want to hear the lived experiences of the folks that are impacted by the hurt. Their grief stirs up memories within me and thus, my own humanity. I grieve with those that grieve. Your grief is also my grief.

I reflect on the fact that no human is all bad or all good. No group of people is all bad or all good. And it takes deep compassion and a focus on our common humanity to hold that truth as my truth.

Hold on to that truth, Beloveds. We are all holding on for our dear lives. Peace to you and yours.

Iyabo Onipede
Co-Director
Compassionate Atlanta

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