We are hard wired for compassion. It is part of our spiritual positioning system. It is at the core of our journey to being fully alive and fully human. When I am compassionate I yearn for the well-being of all. I become conscious of my oneness with all things.
In Galatians Paul ends the final chapter with a blessing of “peace and mercy” on those who follow a journey to a new creation; on those who believe that there are no divisions within the human family. In his mind the divisions of his time – male and female, slave or free, Jew or gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised – are all irrelevant. His talk of peace is helpful. His blessing of mercy is arrogant and disconnected from peace.
So what does this mean? Peace is about the social, economic and spiritual well-being of all. It is not about the absence of conflict. When my life is grounded in seeking the well-being of others it leads me to help resolve conflicts that keep you or me from knowing peace.
So what does that look like? Peace is about a way of consciousness that says you and I are part of a oneness that exists between all things and people. I understand that you want to live in happiness as much as I do. When a GLBTQ teenager is bullied for who they are, a Muslim vilified as the enemy, women denied full equality or the race of an immigrant is used to conjure up hate talk I will not be passive.
The blessing of peace is only a blessing when I choose not to be silent. Peace becomes a blessing when I am proactive – in my words, intentions or actions. Elsewhere Paul is clear that the spiritual journey invites you and me to “walk in love” and become like a “fragrant offering.”
I believe that the only criteria for whom we are, how we are and where we are on our path is the intention to love with abandonment. Love defines us. In the world of the ancient Middle East love was a contractual arrangement – a promise to come to the aid of another who was attacked in any way.
So coming to the aid of another who is vilified or attacked is an expression of love that bring us alive and of seeking well-being or peace.
That’s why Paul’s blessing of “mercy” is an arrogant disconnect. Mercy comes with an imbalance of power. It assumes that you have the power to dispense it over another. This is not part of an ecosystem of oneness! It ruptures your spiritual positioning system.
Compassion is the sibling of love. It makes me think of two Jewish names for the Holy – God of the Breasts and God of the Womb. Compassion invites us into nurturing, feeding, sustaining and growing the ecosystem of oneness and well-being for all. Compassion, not mercy, is a way of walking in love that is transformative.
So mercy be darned! Blessings are revealed in our intentions of peace and compassion. How do they co-exist in your spiritual positioning system?