Compassion and Consequences

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My friend Jascia is a bodybuilder. What I didn’t know about bodybuilding is that you don’t necessarily train all the time. Bodybuilders train for a competition or a series of competitions. They build their muscles for a period of time. Then, for a period of time they go on a very stringent diet which will totally change your body so that you look ripped and cut. She says she loves doing it because it really shows her how quickly she can change her body if she puts her mind to it. When we were in Costa Rica, my friend Hollis and I were complaining about being in a bikini all week and not being at our best weight. Jascia said, “Your body looks the way it does because of the amount of food you eat and the exercise you do. You can change that if you want to.” I told her to shut up. Because of her experience bodybuilding, she knows the consequences of changing what she does and the impact it has on her body. It’s helped her with body acceptance.

Call it karma, reaping what you sow, getting what you deserve or consequences….the law of the universe is that when we take one action, there is a direct result of that action. It can be good or bad, depending on your perspective. It may happen now or later. It may be an internal, spiritual consequence or it may be an outward consequence. Last night I ran too late, so I didn’t sleep well. I knew it would happen. I had other things I wanted to do, so I accepted the consequences. Am I a little mad at myself this morning? Yes. What seemed like a great choice last night doesn’t seem so great to my sleepy ass this morning. But, I accept it.

There has been a good deal of discussion on FaceBook and in the news about the Boston bombing and whether or not the response was overkill. I’ve also had friends with very strong opinions that people shouldn’t be angry and vindictive to the surviving suspect. There are a lot of shoulds and hindsight in those judgments. I was definitely one who wanted the cops to nab that little you know what. I was angry. I was blind angry. Would I ever be able to go to a running event and feel safe again? Would I ever be able to go to a crowded event and not keep looking over my shoulder? Will we start to live in a country that is riddled with random bombs and violence like many others that exist? And, yes, I focused my anger on those two suspects. What I know is that anger is a secondary emotion to fear and hurt. And, I was reacting quite normally.

I believe that the consequences for their actions fit the crime. I believe that law enforcement has a couple of jobs to do. They have to hold people accountable to face their consequences, and they have to think about how future acts might be prevented by showing that people are held to face their consequences. Those young men killed innocent people. They live in this country. When you kill people, you get arrested, tried and may even face the death penalty. Our laws in this country are much fairer than in many other places. You get the death penalty elsewhere for much less severe crimes. They made several bad choices. They could have turned themselves in when the photos came out. They would have avoided the consequences they suffered. They could have allowed themselves to be captured when the police had them initially. Instead they chose to start a firefight and kill more people. They could have killed even more people since they were in a neighborhood. And, then the younger one made the decision to flee yet again. There are consequences to those decisions.

There were legal consequences, and there is a wild card consequence. I believe I always have to be cognizant of the fact that the wild card is how someone who is hurt is going to react. When people are hurt or afraid, they often get very angry. How one person will react in anger can be very different than how someone else will react. That’s the wild card. We can’t control it, and we can’t predict it.

I know that kid is probably a victim of a lot of different things. But, he was not a victim in this. People loudly complained about Tiger Woods and said he was using the label sex addict to excuse his behavior. I know this about addicts. If they are really surrendering to the fact that they are an addict, it is an act of taking responsibility for their behavior and accepting the consequences. Part of the recovery process is making amends and paying restitution to those they harmed in their disease. It doesn’t mean that they weren’t victims of some bad things or genetically predispositioned to be an addict. It does mean that they are accepting the consequences and dealing with what they did. And, often, the people they hurt are not forgiving, and they are still VERY angry. Part of the addict’s growth is accepting that, too, as a consequence of their actions.

I do feel compassion for those young men. I would have hated to have done something at 19 that would have ended my life or changed it forever. But, that doesn’t mean that I’m not angry with them nor does it mean I want their consequences to be lessened. There are others out there who might think twice before they do something like this. There are people in Boston who probably feel a little safer this morning because of the actions taken by law enforcement. I know this about anger, fear and hurt. You can’t just say I’m not going to feel it. If you stuff it, it will come out in other ways. I’m not going to judge anybody else in their process of dealing with their feelings around this very significant event nor do I want to be judged for my process. And, I’m still pretty angry. I’m still very fearful. That’s just the way it is.

3 thoughts on “Compassion and Consequences

  1. This is one of my favorites because it’s so reasoned, well thought out, experienced, accepting but not acquiescent, and compassionate but not caving. I really appreciate it.

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