Compassion by Miller Williams
Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit,
bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign
of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down there where the spirit meets the bone.
From The Ways We Touch: Poems. Copyright 1997 by Miller Williams.
I came across this poem a couple of months back when dealing with some people in the office who were particularly abrasive towards me. Mostly in the sense of “I’m hurting a lot here about things not related to what I’m taking it out on you, but you’re here at the moment so you get all my angry shit.”
I know I shouldn’t have to put up with bullshit. But I also understand that there are some times when you just have to shut your mouth and take it, and take it gracefully. Never mind that you’re in a similar scary place. Complain to a trusted friend about how much it sucks, but smile and show the person love and respect next time you see them. Despite the fact that it really fucking hurts at the moment.
Because the stuff that they’re saying to you is stuff that you don’t take personally. It’s not you. It’s not even them. It’s a reaction to the pain they’re feeling on such a deep level that they don’t know realize that what they’re saying sucks.
There will be remorse expressed later, and apologies. But there’s trust as well, and years of friendship. And a return of compassion when I’m in such a place as well. And I would rather they say these things to me than to their superiors and end up fired.