To be right or respectful

Beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing there is a field, I’ll meet you there.   Rumi

Recently on Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer gave a commentary on Charlie Hebdo and free speech in light of Pope Francis’ comments:

“[The Pope] reminds us that religion is about kindness, not imposing our will on others.

So in the wake of the Paris tragedy, when he told us that free speech has limits and that we should not make fun of the religions of others, I listened.

There is no stronger defender of the First Amendment than me. As a reporter, I stand second to no one in defending the French magazine’s right to print their satirical cartoons. Certainly, though, they did not deserve to die.

But defending the magazine’s right to print the cartoons is different than approving the cartoons.

Long ago our Supreme Court ruled free speech is not a license to put public safety at risk by shouting “fire” in a crowded theater.

And good taste and sensitivity to the feelings of others dictates self-imposed limits on what we say every day. That, too, is a principle of civilized society,

I think what the Pope was saying was there is a difference in having the right to do something, and doing the right thing.”

This is an area of “gray,” in which we each much decide what motivates our actions.  There is a difference between expressing one’s opinion and ridicule.  The former is standing up for what one believes, and the latter is being judgmental and disrespectful of the other.  This distinction is essential, not only on a global stage, but in our personal relationships, where our learning begins.

In working with troubled relationships in our practice, we emphasize the importance of understanding before attempting to reach an agreement.  True understanding opens us up to relating from the heart.  It says I am willing to enter your world in order to understand what is important to you about whatever issue is at hand.  It’s not about what is right or wrong.  It’s also about kindness and consideration as the leading energy of interaction.

Unfortunately the fundamentalist extremists planning and perpetrating such horrific acts of violence demonstrate no openness to negotiation based on understanding and kindness.  Judgmental condemnation of all that doesn’t fit into their interpretation of what is “right” deserves to be destroyed.

Even as we defend and protect ourselves from such heinous acts, let us remember not to vilify an entire religion and those who peacefully live within their faith.

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