Unless I am very, very careful,
I doom others by holding onto images of them
based on my preconceptions
that are in turn based on indifference
to what is other than myself.
I claimed autonomy for myself
and forgot that in so doing
I fell into the tyranny of defining other people
as I would like them to be.
By focusing on what I chose to acknowledge in them,
I imposed an insidious control on them.
I now know
that I have to pay careful attention
in order to listen to others
with an openness that allows them to be as they are,
or as they think themselves to be.
The shutters of my mind habitually flip open and click shut,
and these little snaps form into patterns
I arrange for myself.
The opposite of this inattention is love,
the honoring of others
in a way that grants them the grace
of their own autonomy
allowing mutual discovery.
Compassion is one of the purest springs of love.
I am mystified
by the speed with which people condemn one another.
Feeling as righteous as the money-changers in the temple,
they cast their fellows into the outer darkness of their disapproval.
This seems to give them intense pleasure.
Whenever I am tempted by this pleasure,
I remember some impulse in myself
that could lead me into the same trap.
This causes me to distrust the part of myself
that relishes self-righteousness,