In the Spirit of Ubuntu: Compassion.

Compassion seems like a trait in persons that should come so naturally.  And, I really don’t believe that there are a lot of persons who don’t care to care about others.  However, I do think that it is at times, more difficult to have compassion about another person’s situation, if we don’t have knowledge of it.  Compassion to me, is what we achieve after striving for true understanding of another person’s experience. 

I possess compassion for all human beings, and know that there but for the grace of God, go I.  However, there is one group of persons whom deserve compassion, and if your difficulty in showing compassion to them is a lack of understanding or awareness, I am going to try to give you some information regarding that.

As I have mentioned on this blog before, I conduct trainings several times a year, and often my topic revolves around sexual orientation issues for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youths.  These are teens in our neighborhoods, churches, local grocery stores, and jobs.  These are the kids that don’t really have anyone safe to turn to, that can help them try to figure out why they feel so mixed up.

I want to share some pertinent facts with you:

*It is estimated that roughly one in ten persons has a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender sexual orientation.  That means, there is a one in ten chance that these men and women are in your midst, without your awareness possibly.

*A person cannot tell by looking at a person if he or she is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.  Those are called assumptions, which seem to always get us into trouble.  We have been socialized in many ways to believe that boys look a certain way, girls look a certain way, and anything that resembles either or both must be put into a category.  People cannot be determined about who they are simply by how they appear.  Truth.

*Many of the youths that are either self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning, which means trying to figure out their sexual orientation, have been rejected by their families, judged by their churches, and harassed and even beaten in their schools.  Have you heard of Lawrence King?  The teen in California who was murdered by a classmate because Lawrence was openly gay, gender ambiguous, and was flirting with this young man, who proceeded to murder Lawrence.  Many youths actually drop out of school, transfer, run away from home or live on the street because they cannot stand the rejection.

*Some church families are supportive of gay persons, but many are not. Some churches, in the name of saving someone’s soul, or to “love the sinner, hate the sin”, actually push these persons into groups that try to “convert” a person to heterosexuality, it is known by some as the Ex-gay movement.  For many religious persons who believe that being gay is wrong, they also believe that being gay is a choice, a lifestyle, and not something that comes from God creating us.

*Hundreds of thousands of gay youths every year have thoughts of suicide, or actually attempt it. In addition, it is estimated out of all completed suicides by young persons, ONE THIRD are youths that are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, or questioning their sexual orientation.  They have been so rejected, and had so few supports available to them, including those that youths usually can rely on, like teachers, family, friends, and church and community, that they believe, at age 15 or so, that life just isn’t worth living any more.  That is criminal that we are losing that many young people to suicide due to a lack of support, awareness and understanding in our schools, our homes, our communities, and our churches.  To me, THAT is the sin, letting those young people believe that they are not worthwhile to hold onto, tightly.  THAT is indeed the sin being perpetrated, not sexual orientation.

*For those that choose life, they may use drugs or drink alcohol to cope with the stressors of coming out.  They may be filled with internalized shame, after being told their whole lives what a boy or a girl is “supposed” to do, “supposed” to be like.  Those messages play over and over again, until it becomes a jumble of what one believes they are, and what they are being told they are. 

*HOMOSEXUALITY IS NOT A CHOICE.  Who would choose it?  It is hard, it is painful, it is isolating and shaming.  Just as a heterosexual person cannot easily identify why they are attracted to and fall in love with someone of the opposite sex, so it is true with persons with a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender orientation.  I cannot explain why my heart does not skip a beat for a person of the opposite gender, but goes crazy for my partner, a woman.  The reason I cannot explain it is because it is as natural a part of a human being as eye color.  As any of the other gifts that God has bestowed upon us as humans.


We are not better, or more entitled, or needing special praise or rights.  We want to be understood and appreciated for our diversity and compassion and loving spirit.  Compassion does not come with restrictions of who should be entitled to it and who should not.

 

What are your thoughts on what makes up compassion?  Do you show compassion for those that you don’t know much about, and if you know more, does it help in your ability to show compassion? 

 

Compassion, not for one, but for all, IS Ubuntu.

 

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15 thoughts on “In the Spirit of Ubuntu: Compassion.

  1. One thing that hurts me most in regards to issues like this is that violent it is when a group of people define themselves as superior to all the other groups; a certain religion, certain race, certain nationality, or men, heterosexuals…, hold this position with all means of aggression and than the other groups need hundreds or even thousands of years to PROVE they are equal. It sounds almost like having to beg to be accepted back. It pisses me of so much, my inner value for righteousness gets triggered heavily. Why on Earth do you homosexuals even have to explain your sexuality to anybody, to justify you right to be the way you are… Why do you women need to fight for your rights, I mean, this is really tragic. There is something utterly wrong with this civilisation. I, as a heterosexual man, never had to justify myself in front of anybody, never had to fight for my right to be heterosexual and to be treated with respect…
    I am really sad and angry about all of this.
    And a bit ashamed of being a white, heterosexual man, really!

  2. *stands up and claps* <– really loudly at that.

    You know me, it doesn’t matter who you are, what colour you are, what nationality you are, it doesn’t matter because I’ll love you anyway. Hurt me and then its a different matter.

    Compassion for another human is on of the most important human traits, one I feel is as you say natural to most humans but gets bogged down by societies preconceptions.

    Beautiful post hun, so very true!

  3. I second that motion … I am standing up and clapping too. Bravo for such a superb posting!

    Thinking (and propagating) that gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgenders are somehow “less than” and are not “worthy” is indeed the real sin! I firmly believe that our sexual orientation is not a choice; it is just a much a part of our genetic makeup as eye color or handedness, and therefore should never be considered sinful! God loves us all … regardless of race, religion, nationality, political affiliation … and yes – regardless of sexual orientation!

  4. Robert: Thank you so much for your visit!!! I was reading your “About” page, and was just so overwhelmed by your honesty and forthrightness about your life, I wasn’t sure how to comment. That is a compliment, if it didn’t sound like such….. Thank you also for your right on comments regarding this post. It has been so long in coming, and how deeply I feel about this is often hard to put into words; you are right, there are groups in this society, world society, two of which you mentioned, male and heterosexual, that have no need to justify who they are or what they do, in order to obtain validation of some sort. Sadly, many of us in the gay community have felt that we needed to seek that validation to find our own worth. I have realized, thankfully, that I don’t need that validation to feel worthy, I AM worthy. But, that being said, we do need to be treated equally, and I will continue to fight for that until I can walk down the aisle, if I so desire, with my beloved…..
    Thanks so much for your support!!!

  5. SF: You are just so ingrained into my heart and soul; I know you are so balanced in this issue, and thank you sis, for encouraging me to write this; it was very healing, and once again, so appropriate to Ubuntu for sure!!!!

  6. Fitch: Thank you for your warm thoughts. So many of my friends, and our family as well, have actually sought support and comfort and community from our churches, yet been rejected or asked to be someone we are not. That does not sound very Christ-like or loving to me…….. I am so grateful to have met you, and to have you here….. thank you so much for your support, because it does mean a lot…. Vanessa

  7. Compassion is at the heart of Ubuntu. The centre of Ubuntu. You can not have Ubuntu without it.

    Like you say. Being gay is not a choice. Like the color of my skin is not my choice. And my gender is not my choice. It is who I am. We should not be defined by these parts of who we are. We should be defined by our love and compassion for others and for ourselves.

    Hell, if I had a choice I would not have chosen to be a pale heterosexual male. Except for the fact that it helped me find the love of my life it is nothing to be proud of. It is nothing special. In fact, I don’t like most of those who look like me. Too many bigots wear the same “clothes”.

    Here is another thought. I don’t even want to be defined as heterosexual. I don’t. Because I am not. I am just a person who met another person and who loves. It could have been anyone. It just happened to be someone from the opposite gender. I didn’t make the choice to love her. It just happened.

    Mmm, that is an incomplete thought. But you just made me think of it. Always such a pleasure to come here and you make me think. I think there is a blog in there somewhere. The “choice”. Thank you for that.

  8. AA: WOW. I really am humbled by your words. It is not often that a white, heterosexual male doesn’t want to take some credit for who he is based on the skin he inhabits or the women he conquests……seriously, kind of twisted…… I have always felt that love and compassion from you, and that love is simply, LOVE, not sadistic or twisted or wrong, just that we love whom we love, without reservation or pretense….

    You really are amazing, do you know that???? So now, I need to refer to you as AAA: Amazing Angry African, yes???

  9. PS: This was an EXTREMELY personal post for me. The fact that we are losing teens simply because we cannot embrace their orientation is so heinous to me, that it is beyond description. Get it together, people…. young persons killing themselves because they feel rejected is a waste of life, and plain old wrong…..WAKE UP, please…. save our children by changing the message that we have been indoctrinated to teach them, tell them that it is okay to be gay, straight, or bisexual or transgender; that it is about the LOVE, really….. and the respect for another human.

  10. True compassion? Is not having the same feelings or thoughts as another person, yet respecting that they do, and loving them as a brother or sister and stepping up to the plate for them despite that fact. True compassion is loving a person for who they are and not who you want them to be.

  11. I agree with Robert that is ashame that you have to fight for your rights and fight to be accepted. Even if homosexuality were a choice for some, it still does not give anyone the right to feel as though they are less than any other human being. I applaud you for taking on this indeavor; because our youth already feel so mixed up, with emotional turmoil. Oh how I remember those times. It has to be even more diffulcult for the homosexual youth to through pubity, school and family ridicule; especiall young men I imagine. Fathers in our society are especially cruel when they see or imagine their sons having homosexual tendencies. It really pisses me off! I always let them know too, and I’m often met with the ignorance of “If I don’t correct it, then I’m not being a good father.” In the end, all that comes out is lots of pain and agony, because people don’t change their sexual orientation simply because dad makes them stop playing with dolls or beats them for putting their hands on their hips. To me it’s cruel and should be against the law, as any other form of child abuse. It’s mentally and physically abusive. Being a homosexual male youth in some communities is akin to pure hell! We as a nation need to step out and speak about the ignorance just we speak about the other injustices and ignorance that plagues us. Thanks for bringing this to the forefront. Keep up the good work. I will post a post on this subject some time soon, as it is a word that needs to be said. Peace, Light and Love. . Ubuntu! too. CordieB.

  12. Cordie: Thank you for your passion about this! This is a post that I have been wanting to do for a long time, but just didn’t get the right fit for writing it, then it seemed to go perfectly with Ubuntu….. compassion was the perfect fit for me. I really hope that over time, more people will get it, because the education and information has to start early on, so that youths can feel supported, loved and encouraged to be who they are truly meant to be! I will keep fighting the good fight…. thanks so much for your support….. hugs to you! Vanessa

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