This week we are reflecting on compassion and what gets in the way of compassionate responses.
That’s right. Let me back up for a minute.
Our family loves road trips and part of that love is the time it gives us to listen to audio books. On move from Camas, WA to Greensboro, NC we took ten days to drive listen through Lemony Snickett’s “Series of Unfortunate Events
” corpus. That has in turn become a kind of canon for our family.
This time, on our drive to and from Ocracoke Island, we listened through books two and three of the Hunger Games
. Which will make you think a lot about empire, power, and revolution, if that is your thing.
In one scene in Catching Fire (Book 2), Gale, one of the protagonists and best friend of Katniss, is being whipped in the town square by the head “peacekeeper” Thread. It is a brutal scene that I won’t recount here, but it brings Gale within inches of his life. The part that struck me this time around is when Katniss looks back on that day and notices that, “Yesterday, the square emptied so quickly after Gale’s whipping.” There was a town gathered around, watching this unjust beating of Gale, and it is only Katniss (a victor of the Hunger Games so she has relatively more positional power) who steps in initially to try and stop the beating. As soon as Thread is convinced to stop the beating people flee, rather than come to Gale’s aid or see how they could help. Fear overrides compassion. Only Katniss and a couple others were willing to get into “good trouble” which saved the life of Gale. Why? What causes some to respond one way, and others to turn away?
The query for the week:
What are the obstacles (whether legitimate or not) to a compassionate response to another human being?
Thank you for reading, and I hope you will find ways to get into good trouble this week in honor of John Lewis.