Lens of compassion: a framework for building
relationships and ending oppression

We are all born good, and are still completely good — women, children, men, people of color, white people. People are good.

The "lens of compassion" theory assumes that everyone is born with tremendous intellectual potential, natural zest, and lovingness, but that these qualities have become blocked and obscured in adults as the result of accumulated distress experiences (fear, hurt, loss, pain, anger, embarrassment, etc.) which begin early in our lives.

We all struggle with behaviors that are not in our best interest or that of the community. The behaviors attached to those struggles — for example racism, sexism, and other oppressions — are not any one person's fault. Racism, for example, is a systemic oppression carried out mostly by institutions and our government.

People perpetrate racism, but are capable of changing that behavior. People of color can and do oppress each other, but we can stop and change these behaviors.

As a response to a mistake, or to irrational attitudes and irresponsible actions, punishment, criticism, blame and reproach are never called for, never justified, and never effective. The person who blames someone else is in fact adopting a powerless position, thereby damaging both the blamer and the blamed.

Shaming and blaming arise from distress experiences, either in the individual or the culture, but are never justified. Every single human being at every moment of the past, if the entire situation is taken into account, has always done the very best she or he could do, and so deserves neither blame nor reproach from anyone, including self. This, in particular, is true of you.

In childhood, young people can recover spontaneously from distress by the natural process of emotional discharge (crying, trembling, raging, laughing, etc.), but as they grow older well-meaning people, with such advice as "Don't cry" and "Be a big boy," interfere with that process.

Liberated from the effects of the hurt, people who achieve emotional discharge are free to follow the basic loving, cooperative, intelligent, and zestful nature with which they were born. In turn, they tend to be more effective in looking out for their own interests and the interests of others, and will be more capable of acting successfully against injustice.

Human Solutions would like to thank and give credit to Re-evaluation Counseling for some of the text and theory in the Lens of Compassion document.

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