Thursday, February 4, 2010

compassion needed, not platitudes

This email was dated August 11, 2008
Ms. Ingram,
I found your article refreshing and encouraging. It is the first time I've seen anyone speak about this topic, the notion of "bullying" or at least cold indifference to a person's pain and needs. Sometimes people hurt. Sometimes we bleed. Trite sayings about it being "self-inflicted" are not only unhelpful, they are positively harmful.

Shakespeare said there never was a philosopher who could patiently bear a toothache. When the pain is even worse than that, when it's a severe loss of some sort, it can be unbearable. Dismissing it as my own reality is unconscionable.

The New Age came into greater focus when the Baby Boomers came into adulthood. I think early on, most of us had robust health and hadn't had time to encounter life's various heartaches. It was easy then to say that it's all in our minds, everything's OK, etc. Those of us who encountered early hardships were few, and could be ignored or discounted.

Now we're aging. We've had plenty of hard knocks, and we're losing people close to us - even sometimes, our children. Our health isn't as easy to take for granted as it once was. It's no longer possible to pretend that all you have to do is think happy thoughts, and everything will be fine. Slowly we're learning that on some level pain is real - and that's the level you're on, the pain is as real as it gets.

Sure, maybe on some exalted level pain is an illusion, it all does make sense, etc. But until you're there, being told about it is meaningless and discounts your feelings.

[Your article] helped me to get a better handle on this issue, and offers me some hope that finally New Age people will begin to recognize that people who are hurting need compassion, not lofty platitudes. They need hugs and tears and time to vent, even if some day we'll all be laughing about it. Today's not that day, today we have tears.
Thank you,