Control vs. Compassion

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

4 June 2020

I feel drained. I feel deflated. I feel like I’m not in control of my world. I know I’m not in control of anything except myself. I want to inject peace into our world, but peace doesn’t come without trauma in my experience. There is no peace without internal or external flames. 

I know power and control over people feels disrespectful, degrading, and defeating. I know empathy and compassion for other people feels welcoming, ennobling, and empowering.

Empathy and compassion should override power and control. But they often don’t. We might not have to look any farther than our family court system to see that.

Have you had the experience of going through a mere divorce proceeding in America? Frequently, justice in such proceedings is not about unearthing injustices. It’s often about protecting those with the money, the power, and the control.

Even with video footage and clear evidence of intimidation, abuse, and fear, judges regularly make rulings based on their own biases, rather than on fact-based research and firsthand information. Maybe the only way to survive is to use our voices loudly and proudly – even if that sometimes means screaming to be heard. Have you ever seen what happens if you scream in a court of law?

Why do we favor power and control over harmony and peace? Why do we value our attachments to things and idols? Why can’t we open our minds and hearts to others? Where is the compassion? Where is the empathy? Where is our vulnerability? If we find it, we’ll transform. If we find it, we’ll heal.

We must focus on ourselves. We must dig deep and learn our mistakes. We must educate ourselves. We must heal. We must not fixate on others. We don’t know what they know. We don’t know what they fear. We don’t know what they fight to overcome. We can’t know by presuming the correctness of our generalizations and our judgements. We can know by listening and learning. We can learn by finding our empathy and our compassion.

We all have the power to be evil. We’re all one decision away from being our worst selves. Think of your worst moment. Were you proud? Do you tell people about it? Did you lie about it? Do you blame yourself? Do you blame others? Did you learn from it? Did you bury it and hide from it? Did the silence help? Did the silence hurt?

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. – Desmond Tutu