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Images of Compassionate Action: Part 2

As part two of this post, let’s compare the image from yesterday with this image from December 26th:

Indian women protesting against the brutal gang-rape of a woman last week attempt to remove police barricades as they try to approach the residence of Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde in New Delhi, on December 24, 2012. Authorities shut down roads in the heart of India’s capital on Monday to put an end to a week of demonstrations. (AP Photo/Mustafa Quraishi)

Both of these photographs show compassion in motion, and yet the tones are quite different. The image of the women depicts what BPFer Travis Donoho from Austin, Texas aptly calls “compassionate confrontation.”

This, I love.

In a context where compassion is almost always construed as soft, we at BPF want to bring awareness and support to its other, more confrontational forms. And it’s so exciting to keep meeting more and more Buddhists and spiritual practitioners who want to do the same.

Yesterday, as I was planning for this post, I came across a Facebook status from engaged Buddhist Kyeongil Jung that perfectly sums up the sentiment.

For my Buddhist (and Christian) friends who are compassionate for those who suffer but hesitate to confront those who make others suffer:

“The illusion of power must be unmasked, idolatry must be undone, oppression and exploitation must be fought, and all who participate in these evils must be confronted. This is compassion. We cannot suffer with the poor when we are unwilling to confront those persons and systems that cause poverty. We cannot set the captives free when we do not want to confront those who carry the keys. We cannot profess our solidarity with those who are oppressed when we are unwilling to confront the oppressor. Compassion without confrontation fades quickly to fruitless sentimental commiseration.” – Henri Nouwen

What do you think, BPFers?  Is compassionate confrontation an idea that excites you, too?  What are its challenges, limitations?  Where is it appropriate?

Love thinking through this with you.  Here’s to incorporating compassionate confrontation into our practice!

Comments (1)

  • GG

    “In a context where compassion is almost always construed as soft, we at BPF want to bring awareness and support to its other, more confrontational forms. And it’s so exciting to keep meeting more and more Buddhists and spiritual practitioners who want to do the same.”

    The confrontational form often disguises hatred/aggression, where compassion is used to justify what pisses us off. How do we express confrontational compassion without hate and opposition? On what grounds do we discern whether or not there’s the presence of hate and opposition within us?

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