Potentially Fatal Compassion
Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it's like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too. (Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking)
Two parts of this quote struck me this morning.
- Have you ever considered that compassion has the capacity to be fatal? Of course, we know that it does, but I've never seen it expressed just like that before (that's one of the reasons I love reading Buechner's work). When white people from the north went south during the 60's to join with African Americans seeking equal rights, they had potentially fatal compassion. They knew there would be no joy or peace for any of us until all of us had it, and some of them lost their lives in the effort. Likewise, the African Americans who kept their seat on buses or walked across bridges, or stood up for the rights they were being denied had compassion - not just for their family and friends, but for those who would come after them - there would be no peace for them until there was peace for all. And for some, it was fatal compassion.
- Christ had fatal compassion for us. He died, knowing that there would be no peace for God until there was peace for us.
Where in your life do you need to express potentially fatal compassion? What are you willing to allow to die so that someone else will experience peace and joy, knowing that you will not have it until everyone has it?