was driving with Eric to a local department store, when
noticed a man standing on the sidewalk near the parking
and urinating. “Oh my God,” Eric blurted out,
disgusting, this is terrible!”
who had been studying Communicating with Compassion
with me, turned to me and said, “You teach compassion.
What do you say?”
in this situation is quite upsetting to you”, I said.
(Compassionate communicators first acknowledge another’s
feelings and only then give advice and feedback.) Eric let
a long sigh and simply said, “Yes. These people have
for anybody else. He is urinating right next to the main
then asked Eric why he thought this man was urinating on
public sidewalk. “He must be either homeless or mentally
unstable,” my friend responded. I agreed that this
if he is either homeless or unstable”, I asked, “what
you like to say in response to his actions?” My friend
it was very sad. It also reminds us of our own vulnerability.
If it happens to that person, it could happen to us. That
vulnerability is perhaps why my friend responded with condemnation.
Judging the event as “bad” is a way of saying,
“This happens to bad
people and would never happen to me”.
other choice is to see things with a compassionate eye.
A man is urinating on the sidewalk, 100 yards away from
the public restrooms in a department store. “How sad,”
indeed, that he is so unstable that he does not avail himself
of this, and how sad that in our rich society he is not
getting the care he needs.
ourselves are the main beneficiary of this approach. Judging
and condemning another affects us, first and foremost. It
affects our happiness and our quality of life, and judgment
also affects our physical health. An attitude of compassion,
on the other hand, enriches our lives spiritually and emotionally
as well as bringing physical benefits in its wake.
is another reason why we judge and condemn, and that is
the principle of projection. That is for another article.)