A few days ago a German politician laughed. People got angry at him, blaming him.
The situation wasn’t typical as he was paying a visit to one of the places being badly flooded last week. The scene looked horrible with buildings ripped from their foundations, cars flowing down the streets, and inundated homes and places. And people were paying a lot of attention to his behavior in the quest to see if it seemed authentic.
We don’t know what he laughed about or what triggered it. But people decided that this was unacceptable and suddenly social media was filled with righteous statements.
They had taken a stance of what behavior was right and what was wrong.
Blame was the consequence.
Blame is a way for people to protect themselves.
In this case most certainly from feeling the pain and loss of control people experience when such a catastrophe happens. It is a situation that raises a lot of fears people hat thought they didn’t need to have. Who would have expected to see such pictures in so many places in Europe at the same time? I live in an area where floods are a regular event, people are prepared. However, this flood had the strength and impact even the people used to floods wouldn’t have expected.
It is easier to revert to blame than to appreciate one’s pain at seeing these pictures.
Compassion is lost.
In “When things fall apart” Pema Chödrön describes what will widen den circle of compassion:
“Only in an open, nonjudgmental space can we acknowledge what we are feeling. Only in an open space where we’re not all caught up in our own version of reality can we see and hear and feel who others really are, which allows us to be with them and communicate with them properly.”
She explains “Blame is a way to solidify ourselves. Not only do we point the finger when something is “wrong,” but we also want to make things “right.””
The problem here is that “right” is according to the standards of the person blaming. By using these standards they have become judgmental of others and possibly also of themselves.
The more they hold on to their version of right, the less connected they are with others.
The challenge they experience is to hold on to it in a loose manner, “to hang out in a space in which we are not entirely sure who’s right and who’s wrong.”
Psychological safety can be described as the nonjudgmental space she described.
Compassion however is the ability to relate to others. To be able to communicate to the heart. To be able to be there for them. It is the most advanced art of communication.