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Hunting Down My Compassion: a Work in Progress

This is Cecil, the lion slayed by American dentist Walter James Palmer.

In his book, Fieldnotes On the Compassionate Life, Mark Ian Barasch writes;
 
A friend once told me of visiting the Dalai Lama in India and asking him for a succinct definition of compassion. She prefaced her question by describing how heartstricken she’d felt when, earlier that day, she’d seen a man in the streets of Dharamsala beating a mangy stray dog with a stick. "Compassion," the Dalai Lama told her, "is when you feel as sorry for the man as you do for the dog."
 
That initial red hot surge of outrage was when I first connected with my Inner Palmer. I wanted to wound him, the cruel bastard, and hunt him down for 40 hours before beheading him, and how would he like that…and I saw that I was pretty much behaving just like him.
 
I'm trying to understand this trophy hunter, predator, sexual harasser of female employees and father of two, Palmer the dentist. I read a study linking small genitalia to hunters. So maybe he’s overcompensating for a small penis. I read an article about the remarkable similarity between serial killers and trophy hunters. So maybe he’s a sociopath. Yet another article discussed the hunter’s need to hunt and kill off the feminine, another was about ….and then I had to stop reading articles because I had reached my limit of disturbing photos.
 
How disconnected from his own heart, from Life's heart (so beautifully manifested in Cecil the lion) must he be? How soul-dead must he be to actually enjoy inflicting suffering upon another being? What happened to create this in him?
 
And again I realized that I was doing to him what he does to animals and other people: I was making him the “other”. One of “them”. I’m objectifying him and making him the monster. Easier to kill him off that way.
 
If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
 
So here’s another way I connect with Palmer: I can disconnect from my own heart, I can disconnect from my own body, I can unplug from my own wild nature, and from Nature herself. I can disconnect from my mind, my intuition, my truth, other people. It’s so easy. Not only that; I can feel, see and hear the suffering this causes and still numb out with the best of the walking dead. I don’t numb out with substances and risky behaviors like in the old days, but there are so many ways to disconnect and unplug: I don’t have the time, 5 hours on the computer, I don’t want to know, 3 hours in front of the TV, I’m too busy, it’s time to reorganize the junk drawer, It’s not that bad,  a pint of ice cream gone, I need the money, I’ll deal with it later…. I have a lot of respect for Kwan Yin, goddess of compassion, aka She Who Hears the Cries of the World. She doesn’t whine about being too busy and then unplug. I’d go mad if I had to listen to all of that pain 24-7. This is not an easy path. Thank goodness there’s music and art, meditation and dance, laughter and a multitude of ways to plug back in.
 
Palmer is the one being hunted as I write this. Part of me thinks; “Good, serves him right.” Part of me hopes he realizes that this is how the women and animals he preyed upon over the years felt, and has a change of heart. And part of me despairs that he will ever realize how disconnected he truly is, because he’s too far over on the spectrum. It's not a line... it's a spectrum that stretches between good and evil, compassion and indifference, connection and disconnection, and we’re all on it.
 
 
 
 
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