Ray’s Rays, Number 27
Living with Compassion
Radiance Angelina Petro
There are those who only read the title.
There are those who only read the headlines.
There are those who see what they want to see.
There are those who project their shadows onto others.
There are those who judge quickly without really
looking into things. And I’ve done all of the above.
Trying not to anymore though.
Perception is a funny, fickle thing. We
look at the world, and see what we want to see
using the lenses of our past and present selves,
and with the lenses of our fears, our expectations,
our limited information, and our misinformation,
as well as our preconceived notions, especially about things
we don’t understand or “approve,” of.
Sometimes the lenses are clouded—clouded with trauma–
whether conscious or unconscious, or with the afore mentioned
misinformation. Sometimes we look through the lenses of
“whatever I see is right. I am a savior, and what I see matters more
than what other people see.” I get all of that too.
I am growing though. I am more and more able
to look past my own prejudiced perceptions and fears,
and also to acknowledge, and be accountable for,
when those perceptions are wrong or inaccurate, or worse, harmful.
I am more able to look for the good, and to know
I am not here to save the world with how I look at things
and the conclusions I come to—usually without the whole
picture in view. I am more and more able to engage
and have conversations—even difficult ones—with people
who perceive me as a threat because I’m trans.
Sometimes I can’t have such conversations, but when I do,
it often yields surprising results. I see that most people’s hatred
towards people like me is rooted in fear and their own shadows,
and for me that calls up compassion. I’m still not sure how.
I have been treated so terribly these last seven years
since coming out—I can’t even begin to describe how cruel
and violent some people can be towards trans people–
and most often while using their faith traditions as shields
of hate. Surprisingly though, I have been able
to cross over bridges of mutual kindness,
and make friends with “haters.” But today I’m feeling tired.
There is more anti-trans legislation on the books than ever before in history.
It would seem the far-right will stop at nothing
short of genocide of people like me. Well, today,
as tired as I am, I am still feeling—through all the rage,
fear, and grieving—some level of compassion
for those people. Sometimes I wish I didn’t. Sometimes
I wish I could return hate for hate. But that’s just not me.
I suffer inside. I turn the rage inwards, or sometimes
express it in my writing. Mostly it’s turned inwards
and the depression deepens into dangerous depth.
If you’re like this—please be gentle with yourself
and seek support. If you’re one of the people
who look through the lenses of hate, fear, and don’t
pause to get to know me, then I wish you compassion.
I wish your god to be merciful unto you, for god knows
whatever god is out there, is one of love and kindness,
and with a heart as wide as the world.