Step 9 – Part 2, by Sara Neall
The 9th step to living a compassionate life is cultivating a concern for everybody. Karen Armstrong defines this concern as, “understanding different national, cultural and religious traditions.” She goes on to say, “we cannot confine our compassion to our own group: we must also reach out in some way to the stranger … – even to the enemy.” (p.144)
The coronavirus pandemic continues to challenge each one of us. As it travels around the world infecting people indiscriminately, it has revealed the depth of our interdependence. This pandemic has laid bare the fact we are connected and that our care for each other must include everybody. Realizing this interdependence is both terrifying and beautiful.
When we are afraid, we live in survival mode. Fear narrows our borders and we focus on caring for ourselves and those closest to us. But if we live too long in fear it becomes harmful. Our narrow borders can lead to regard “one’s own group as inherently superior” (p.144) This breeds arrogance and divisiveness. Our thoughts, words and actions become defined by an attitude of superiority.
However, the beauty of interdependence arises when we realize that we are One. In Step 9 – Part 1, Sister Henrita writes, “we each have a place in the Earth Community” When we see ourselves as part of the whole world, fear, and connection meet.
Step 9 helps us nurture this beauty. Concern for everybody, even those with whom we disagree, must guide our compassion. It is in this step that we move away from fear and towards beauty.
Holding complex ideas can lead us to the beauty of creativity.
Stepping out of our comfort zone can lead us to the beauty of greater diversity.
Widening our borders can lead us to the beauty of deeper insights.
And remembering that
we are not free until all beings are free
can lead us to the ultimate beauty of liberation.