It doesn’t seem right that I continue on with my fun-filled adventures at the Wisconsin State Fair after what I read in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Mike brought in the paper this morning and I immediately went for it to check out all my weather data in the sports section. I was shocked to see news of the violence at state fair Thursday night shortly The Avatar Compassion Project after we left. As a result, I feel a need to preempt my story to say a few words about what happened.
When Mike handed the paper over to me the front-page headline read “Fair cracks down following violence.” I read open-mouthed with a sinking feeling in my stomach how at 7PM on Thursday night just a couple of hours after we left a group of teenagers started fighting. Then I saw this smaller headline that said, “An Eyewitness Tells His Story. 4A” I went right over to page 4A and what I read filled me with a deep sadness.
Basically I am a naïve person. I was always accused of such and I feel that I have never totally outgrown it. The first definition of naïve at dictionary.com states the naïve as having or showing unaffected simplicity of nature or absence of artificiality; unsophisticated; ingenuous and number 2 says, having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information; credulous: She’s so naive she believes everything she reads. He has a very naive attitude toward politics. Yep, that’s me all right. Please don’t hold it against me. I mean well. J With that in mind let me tell you my reaction to the eyewitness story.
The sadness I felt was visceral, a physical reaction with heaviness in my chest, tightness in my stomach and stinging in my eyes. Apparently young black males were attacking people in their cars. The author of the editorial Andy Lane also felt sadness. He was punched in the face and given a black eye as he was stopped in traffic. He and his wife didn’t even go to the fair. Mr. Lane says they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. He wrote that he and his wife discussed how they wished they could take the kid who hit him home with them and show “him care, concern and support.”
My thought was that I wish someone could sit down and talk with these young people one on one. The person listening would really hear with an open heart and mind and the young person would totally open his/her heart and pour out all that’s locked inside. The young person would say how he/she feels about life, the future; voice his/her worries, and fears and concerns. And with compassion and understanding together they could come up with ways to make things better. Do you see what I mean about being naïve? What also came to my mind after reading this story was the Avatar Compassion Project. There is also an Avatar compassion course. Somewhere, somehow I picked up this card, see picture above, brightly colored with a 70’s design and a butterfly on the front from the Avatar Compassion Project. On the inside there is a compassion exercise with the objective of increasing compassion in the world. There are five steps to this exercise. Basically what you do is focus your attention on a person you happen to see anywhere you are and think to yourself,” Just like me this person is seeking some happiness for his or her life.” In the subsequent steps you say the person is trying to avoid suffering, has known sadness loneliness and despair, is seeking to fulfill his/her needs and is learning about life. What I realized was I have done a form of this exercise from time to time before I knew there was a formal exercise about compassion. Not all the time but from time to time I would see someone and not exactly say the words but I would feel the ideas behind them. At those times I would feel this love mixed with some sadness for that person, who I didn’t even know and probably would never see again.
Now that I know that there is a formal exercise around this and that it makes a difference in the world, I don’t feel entirely weird about those experiences that I had. In fact, maybe I am helping in some small way to bring compassion to the planet. However, what happened at the state fair Thursday might not reflect that, my naiveté won’t let me give up hope.