“Breaking through, piercing the heart of each to each other so that there is nothing else but compassion.” (p. 60, The Buddha’s Wife)
The traumatic image of the drowned Syrian 3-year old, Aylan Kurdi has pierced many, many hearts throughout the world. When the image appeared in The New York Times article on September 3rd, it sent waves of emotions—shock, anger, guilt, and deep sadness. The question many confronted from seeing the image of Aylan: How could we let this happen?
Subsequently, the image and the tragic story of his family drowning—Aylan with his older brother and mother—awakened a stark and brutal reality of the current migrant crisis. The response has been quick on many sides, and activists and countries are stepping up and opening their borders and homes to help. We are all being called to touch into our compassion and collective responsibility. Any sense of differences in nationality, culture, language, and beliefs—these identities are fading into the compassionate call to help one another as fellow humans: mother, father, son, daughter, grandparent, relative, neighbor, friend.
When your heart has been pierced by the life of another, it’s important to be mindful of our first reaction, whether it be outrage, fear, or sadness. These emotions can create a follow-up reaction of resistance, denial, or anger that will close off your heart. This is a ripe condition to meet your feelings and lean in rather then walk away, and for the other children like Aylan and the thousands of other personal stories that are occurring right now for the migrants and refugees in Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa, US, and anywhere, they are in critical need for us to open our compassion and share the responsibility of our global sangha and interbeing.