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Vulnerability:  The Roots of
Compassion
Copyright © 2009 by Richard A. Grossman, Ph.D.  ·  All Rights reserved  ·  E-Mail: ragrossman@voicelessness.com
omnipresent heartbeat.  Still, before we resurrect our adult defenses and somehow create a less painful home in our psyche for this tragedy—(a process that is inherently human, and essential for us to go on), let us take a minute to experience more fully---and even value our very feelings of vulnerability.

What could possibly be the benefits of acknowledging and sharing our vulnerability?    By pretending the opposite--to be invulnerable-- we put up walls to intimacy, empathy, and compassion.  Look at the news this past week:  along with pictures of unbearable loss and suffering, we see the greatest outpouring of generosity and empathy this country has seen in a long, long time, perhaps since World War II.  The donations of money, blood, time, food, supplies, hard work, are beyond people’s wildest expectations.  These acts of kindness and generosity have their roots, at least in part, in a shared sense of vulnerability.  As a country, if you will forgive the new age parlance, we have gotten in touch with our vulnerable self, long forgotten and neglected, and responded magnificently.  Our landscape may be marred, but the ugly American is ugly no more.  I feel a sense of relief about this.  Ironically, the terrorists were able to humanize our country in a way that the “kinder, gentler” folks were never able to do.

Sadly, this makes the events of last week no less tragic.  Grief is the worst that life has to offer, for which there is no remedy save time and an ear.  Even then, the cure is never complete—nor would we want it to be, for if we simply forgot those whom we loved, life would lose meaning.  The grief that many people are suffering at this very moment is simply unbearable.

But the vulnerability this tragedy has engendered in the rest of us is nothing to be ashamed of.  It has given us the opportunity to be closer to one another—to not pretend, to be humble, to be generous, empathic, and compassionate.  We have rediscovered one of the real strengths of our country.  Look at the people around you.  We are all vulnerable, we are all scared, and if we share our feelings we can all take great comfort in this—because vulnerability is an important and precious part of being human.
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Vulnerability:  The Roots of
Compassion
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