Our mindfulness rests on a foundation of compassion. It works like this: as we become more compassionately aware of our own suffering, we can perceive the suffering of others more accurately. A growing sense of being part of one family comes from cultivating loving awareness of our similarity as human beings, our oneness. As this realization deepens, we find there is only one possible response to pain and suffering: to care for one another and help out where we can.
We now know that childhood traumas (called ACE’s, adverse childhood experiences) dramatically affect children’s health across their whole lifetime. Today, we are learning how to prevent the progression from early adversity to disease and early death. Yet today, 2,500 children, including infants and toddlers, of parents who may be fleeing for their lives have been taken from their parents, the one constant in their lives, and sent far away. We don’t even know where they are. Just writing these words fills my heart with grief. I have spent much of my professional life as a psychotherapist working with children and families to protect and promote their mental health and their healing from ACE’s.
You don’t have to be a highly trained clinician to know that losing a parent – let alone being forcibly separated and held prisoner far from each other – is one of the most stressful experiences children can have. All children, including those of immigrant families seeking asylum in our country, deserve to be protected from horror and heartbreak. To deliberately inflict this Adverse Childhood Experience on them is nothing less than child abuse.
Two weeks ago, I asked, what is a compassionate, enlightened response to pain? To take refuge in loving awareness, in friendship, in wisdom and self-compassion teachings – speaking our truth in community, raising our voices on behalf of what we care about.