The Antidote for a Conflicted World

What do we do when confronted with the realities that disrupt our vision of and hope for humanity? For me, the images are still fresh from the tragic news story in June of Oscar Alberto Martinez and Angie Valeria, the Salvadorian father and his 23-month-old daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande while seeking refuge on US shores. 

This issue is not whether people should cross the border; that is a separate conversation. But no one should drown in the pursuit of a better life.

At Kripalu, we believe in the power of compassion to inspire and motivate greater empathy, understanding, and connection. Our work is the work of compassion.

Compassion is essential in this conflicted, divided world. It is the human glue that allows us to see across divisions, reach across difference and forge a direction that is inclusive, empathic and respectful to all. That same inclusiveness is the direct counterpoint to the divisions we are currently experiencing in our world. 

The images that we see daily in the news can divide and weaken us. They separate us into supporters or opponents. Instead, I believe, we need to work to comprehend and heighten our commonality, the universal ground upon which we all stand.

In the face of human suffering, we must—individually and together—find a path that helps to unite, out of compassion. In these moments, the antidote is at the core of Kripalu: to deepen compassion and invite deeper connection.

We must not be silent when horrendous things happen in the wider world. As individuals and as a community, we must redouble our commitment to our mission: empowerment through the wisdom and practice of yoga, advancing the essential knowledge that we are each part of a whole; each individual voice and being contributes to the whole, and each loss damages all of us.

The great meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg writes, “An essential question for me is how we keep going in our efforts towards change when immediate success is not in sight, when we have gotten really tired, when we’re frustrated. For me, it comes down to having a way to connect to something bigger—to an image of possibility, or a renewed belief in the power of love, or a community of like-minded people. The world may be pulling us toward distraction, hopelessness, or nihilism, but if we choose to redirect our attention, we can remember this bigger vision. We draw strength from the power of lovingkindness and most especially from one another.” Sharon sees meditation, prayer, and positive thoughts not as a replacement for action, but as a powerful means to help us act, and to help us keep paying attention. 

In a world that has forgotten that we are all connected, all part of one human whole, we must embody the multiplicity that is vital to unity, and raise our myriad voices in service of a safer, more humane, and more compassionate world.

Read more from Kripalu CEO Barbara Vacarr.

Barbara Vacarr, PhD, Kripalu's CEO from 2016–2021, is a psychologist, adult educator, and lifelong meditator who writes about and speaks to topics related to mindfulness, compassion, conscious leadership, and activism.

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