Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Norway Atrocities, Amy Winehouse, Judgement & Compassion


I was going to write a blog about Friday’s horrific bombing and subsequent shooting massacre in  Norway, and the very clear connection with the dysfunctional mind…

… then I heard about Amy Winehouse’s death…

… so I decided I’d write a blog about the Norway atrocities and the passing of Amy Winehouse, and the common link in both tragedies… the dysfunctional mind…

… then I read this, on Twitter:

“91 innocents lost to us - why should I give a damn about a drug addicted singer who couldn't cope with fame and fortune! #perspective”

… a third, though more subtle example of the dysfunctional mind.

I wrote this, last week, in the 2012 & the Awakening Phenomenon blog I posted here:

"You are the key component in the transformation from a violent, greedy, ever-judgemental society, towards a veritable heaven on Earth."

Judgement/prejudgement/prejudice is one of the greatest, most destructive, most abhorrent flaws of our species. It is a virulent psychological disease that has driven the slaughter of millions upon millions of people.

It is an absence of compassion. Compassion is not a discriminatory virtue.

It was judgement and a vacuum of compassion that had Anders Behring Breivik calmly walking around Utoeya island, on Friday, summarily executing scores of children.

Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, Stalin, Pol Pot, Ida Amin… they weren’t some supernatural incarnations of evil in human form… they were human beings, with human minds… subject to the same dysfunction we are all prone to, if left unchecked.

None of these people single-handedly killed the tens of millions they are collectively deemed to be responsible for murdering…

… like a psychic virus, their judgement and lack of compassion spread, rank and file… starting with an influence of hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands…

Judgement can begin in one person, or one group of people, and end with millions dead. You only have to look at the history books to see that truth.

Going back to that Twitter comment…

“91 innocents lost to us - why should I give a damn about a drug addicted singer who couldn't cope with fame and fortune! #perspective”

This was similar to many other posts I saw which displayed selective compassion… judgement… hypocrisy…

Amy Winehouse was 27-years-old; a young woman, and from my perspective of being ten years older, just a kid. She was an immensely gifted singer and songwriter – a proper genius with her music – yet haunted by her own mind.

While I don’t know how or why she actually died, it’s clear that she had struggled for many years to find compassion in herself, for herself… and it’s a given that the process of addiction led to and was exacerbated by self-doubt, low self-esteem and real human agony… a shadow-life of self-judgement… critical over-thinking and inner-torture.

She lost the fight.

People that never knew her other than from tabloid news stories - who were probably singing the praises of the fall of the News of the World in the UK, earlier this month, despite getting all their gossip and having their sense of moral superiority inflated by the perpetual judgement spouted by that socially toxic publication and its ilk – are smarming to themselves, saying they saw it coming, and they display absolutely no compassion to a life lost in such tragic circumstances.

When you break down the truly shocking Norway death-toll of 92 (for the confirmed dead… and there are four people missing from Utoeya, and possibly more bodies in unstable, bombed-out buildings in Oslo) you find that they become individual tragedies…

For each life lost, there’s a devastated family with their hearts broken, right now… parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins… girlfriends and boyfriends… friends…

How different is their incomprehensible grief to that of Amy Winehouse’s mother and father, waking up this morning and remembering their little girl is dead?


Practice compassion… not judgement…

If you catch yourself judging people, if you say the wrong words, don’t beat yourself up… don’t judge yourself, too… forgive and let go. Learn and return to compassion.

Judgement will always lead us down dark paths, both in the mind and in society, and it spreads like a plague.

Compassion will always lead us to the light, and the more you practice it - the more you display it and make it part of your life - the more people around you will practice it, too.

We have a simple choice that can steer the direction of mankind… to destruction, or to salvation.

Judgement or compassion.

Which do you choose?

81 comments:

  1. Beautifully written, Les. You said everything I was feeling. Love & Light, Jo x

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  2. ClearlyMeLuise24 July 2011 at 09:44

    This is very humbling and clearly stated. It's very clear the only choice is compassion... in ALL Situations.

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  3. Cheers, Jo. Felt so sad, yesterday, reading how cruel people can be, through that judgement. x

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  4. hear hear!!! There but for the grace of god.....

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  5. I like to believe that they are in the minority...empty vessels make the most noise, etc., etc. Instead of being sad, you should be really happy that you see the world through untarnished eyes.

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  6. Indeed, Luise... however tough it may seem, at times, if we were all to practice it... just imagine what this world would be like?

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  7. Yep, Lynn... I know that I came close - too many times - to destroying myself with alcohol/suicide. I feel fortunate to have found a way through.

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  8. Beautifully written.

    When I woke up and heard the news about Amy I went on Twitter, said my piece, read a few tweets and then logged off. That's all I needed to do; I wasn't about to watch the "Well you weren't thinking about her yesterday!" or the "Amy Winehouse died okay. But what about Norway?!" tweets infiltrate my timeline.

    Can I be moved by both? Why do I have to choose? Pressing questions that none of those people could answer with a straight face.

    We have lost touch with one another.

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  9. you have it spot on i also had to blog late last night on people and their opinions it got to me it upset me and it made me wonder about some peoples holier than thou attitude to life so thank you for this blog

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  10. Very true, Dreamin... death is a tragedy for every family and friend of those who pass, but particularly at such a young age. NOT to be moved by that is what stuns me.

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  11. Thank you for reading, Pants. It's mind-boggling. :-S

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  12. "I have a dream for my life: I want people everywhere to hear my voice and forget their troubles for 5 minutes" Amy Winehouse, aged 12 yrs.
    And thats what she did. Amy achieved her dream. Lets remember what Amy was able to do. For that was simply extroadinary! Thank you Amy Winehouse.

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  13. karena Haggerty24 July 2011 at 11:57

    Thank you I enjoyed reading your blog.I also loved the music of Amy Winehouse.
    We are all connected to each other just some do not realise that yet.
    Sad day everwhere for all familes who have lost a loved one.
    Karen Haggerty x

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  14. Les, beautifully sad. We really need to change the way we view and talk about addiction. She lost a fight, a fight in which her own mind and body colluded against her. We need to stop thinking that this frightening, unimaginable existence for addicts is a choice. It's not a choice. Like you said, compassion. Thanks for your words.

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  15. Great post Les - and the perfect antidote to some of the venom that's been infecting my Twitter feed over the last day. Thanks.

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  16. This is beyond excellent! I wholeheartedly agree..

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  17. Made me think of a line by Counting Crows, "Keep some sorrow in your hearts and minds for the things that die before their time."

    I think you really nailed it on the head with, " you find that they become individual tragedies…"

    It's not the impersonal numbers that make it a tragedy, it's that each was a precious and irreplaceable individual to someone. The great tragedy on this tiny spec of green racing always into the endless unknown of a cold and impersonal universe is not in the loss of life alone, but in the loss of compassion. An interesting word when you break it down to its parts, "compassion."

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  18. wow..that was impressive..thank you dear.. i was not in good shape myself on Saturday.. i know that is meaningless with all the other tragities going on.. but my friends .. you and Cat.. really helped me..thank you so much .. anyway i truely enjoyed your blog today..thank you for sharing.. LNovak

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  19. Thanks, Les. Really appreciate this. My timeline was horrible yesterday - people I feel I normally connect with and enjoy, unable to find any compassion for a single death because it was somehow less important, more "deserved" than 92. I was horrified. There is a little ray of light in not being the only one to feel that way.

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  20. No matter how bizarre or crazy this young lady's lifestyle was I can still shed a tear in her behalf that she met her demise this way. So very sad that sometimes there's not a chance to turn things around.

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  21. Yeah, I totally jumped on that judgment bandwagon, and then immediately felt like a total jerk. I know better than that. I suffer with mental illness, and my husband struggles with addiction (2 years sober). I hope to get compassion from others and understanding when it comes to my mental health issues, and yet I was quick to judge someone I didn't even know. Shame on me. Thank you for this post. It was beautifully written.

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  22. Judging is what we do. It's our animal selves surviving the world. Can I kill that bear, or should I try to get that rabbit. We have somehow lost this connection to the "Earth" ... Mother Nature .. our animal selves & now find this judging pouring out of us in everything we do. How do we stop this constant storm of thought & over come it? Maybe that is part of the process we need to go thru as people to "wake up".

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  23. Whoa! Loads of comments. I hope you don't mind me not responding to them all personally, but thank you so much for leaving them... some great thoughts from some very good souls. Thanks!

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  24. well written les, we should give value to the quality who ever read it he/she think quite deep, the sad part is, Norway tragedy happened yesterday, tens of hundred dying in afghanistan, Iraq, i haven't seen anybody write anything about them, that makes me to think they are less human as amy and Norwegian, or few other westerner countries, les have you ever thought about them ? have you ever wrote a little words about them ?
    I need a hug
    god bless you

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  25. Think about them every day, Max. My brother is serving in Afghanistan at the moment, after serving in Iraq and Kosovo, too. I wrote a blog about Oz Schmid and Sarah Bryant, who were killed in Afghanistan... Oz was clearing a mine when it exploded - a mine that may well have been accidentally discovered by local children playing football.

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  26. Les,

    This needed to be said, and I'm so happy you said it.

    This same judgment makes people look down on those who are less fortunate. We don’t need to have “big news” items like the tragedy in Norway and the death of Amy Winehouse to know this, but they do expose the uncompassionate attitudes of some people.

    I consider Twitter to be a microcosm of the outside world, so it doesn’t surprise me to know of this ignorant attitude you’ve highlighted by the tweet in your post. I only need to go in my own backyard to see how the mentally ill, homeless, and indigent are treated. By the grace of good fortune, I am not in their shoes, but does that make them any less human than me? No. People judge because they feel superior, as if they’ve done something right NOT to deserve the plight of someone who’s on the streets, sick, or troubled.

    It’s relatively easy to feel "compassion en masse" for those who’ve been killed by war, acts of terrorism, or murder—it’s the right thing to do, of course. It’s not as easy to extend a hand to one person who’s suffering.

    Amy Winehouse was a wonderfully talented artist whose music I’m playing today. She shone bright for a short time, but her songs will remain with us forever. Not unlike the music created by others before her—Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, she will find her place in history for what she contributed to this world.

    To pick and choose who we think deserves our compassion is a slippery slope toward losing our humanity. It’s not far from the attitudes of those who don’t like me because of the way I dress, the color of my skin, or my religion. These self-righteous thoughts lead to prejudice, racism, and in the worst-case scenario – they preach hate.

    As free-thinking human beings, we need to rein in our judgment and increase our compassion - on a daily basis.

    eden

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  27. This is such an awesome post, I really like what you said here.
    -Ellie

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  28. Shannon MacLeod24 July 2011 at 18:48

    So hauntingly true, so well written. These words and the mental images they create will stay with me a long time.

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  29. That's wonderful, Eden... thank you for such a thorough and thoughtful response - though maybe consider making it a post of your own. I feel like I've just accidentally hosted that guest blog we're talking about, and it deserves reading.

    She's certainly entered the hall of legends. I read another comment on my feed suggesting that she was only famous because her 'pop music was hyped'. I feel the need to use four exclamation marks here!!!! She had probably the most stunning, unique voices of her generation and a few generations around her. She was either nominated for or winning top music awards in the UK BEFORE she was really famous, such was her astonishing talent.

    As someone who has had an alcohol problem in the past, but was very fortunate to make it through... and as someone who has had mental health problems in the past, but was very fortunate to make it through... I guess I took her death to heart all the more. I wonder how many people would have been patting themselves on the back for predicting my suicide, had I not been so lucky?

    Thanks again, ace lady! :-)

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  30. Les, I've just picked a theme for August and it's "passion and compassion" - be my guest blogger?
    eden

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  31. Caroline Gillings24 July 2011 at 20:35

    Wonderful post,well written,well said Compassion all the way...... Caroline

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  32. I read in a new story that Amy's mother stated she had come to terms with the death of her daughter a long time ago & was not surprised by the event....
    Now I'm not sure the validity of this but to me it echos the general attitude of the public towards her death. When you take in to account the websites that hosted betting on her death as early as 2008 it becomes that much more horrific.
    just think if al that negative energy & motavation had been put to something positive such as convincing her & other addicts to get help... Or mental health awareness... Perhaps her, as well as other's lives could have been saved... Perhaps even the Norway situation or shoter in Arizona could have been noticed & offered help...
    From someone who has been in a low, destructive situation I can attest that sometimes a kind or gentle word is all it takes to tip a troubled person in the right direction...

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  33. Les,

    You're a good soul, and I'm in agreement with you. It's not a joke to Amy Winehouse's parents. I don't feel much compassion for the likes of UBL or leaders closer to home, but one woman who openly struggled with addictions isn't someone to scorn.

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  34. This post moved me to tears. So true. Thanks.

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  35. Didn't mean to upset you! ;-)

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  36. Les, I too felt troubled and saddened this weekend by people's judgemental attitude and points scoring over which tragedy should touch us most. I too chose to blog, it's heart-warming that responses here show me that our reactions are not unique. Thank you. http://www.whitesocialmedia.co.uk/blog

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  37. Found your post on Twitter. I have to say I love all your sentiments, thoughts and comments. Thank you for providing some common sense and insight into both...

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  38. Much needed post. I was still collecting my thoughts on the lack of compassion towards a troubled soul and the loved ones left in the aftermath.

    Imagine a world where each person consciously took it upon themselves to develop the practice of compassion-towards themselves and others...How many ills would disappear?

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  39. Extremely well written, incisive and cutting to the core of the problems in today's society.

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  40. Outstanding insight Les and hits the core of the problems with our world. The comments and heartfelt thoughts and feelings of those who read your blog and felt compelled to comment gives me hope for our world. I, too, had to move away from the Twitter comments. They were just amazingly cruel and I unfollowed at least a dozen people today. I am now a continuing fan of your blog. Keep up the good work. You really speak from the soul.

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  41. p.s. You've got some real quality people reading your blog.

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  42. Thank you for taking the time to stop and share your feelings of your heart. We as society created technology long ago to better equiped our production, thinking it may give us more free time to share with family and friends. But what has really happened is a world that has become more isolated. Less time to reach out to each other to touch or stop and listen to one another. Truely listening to each others heart. So many lonely and confused people need to know that some one hears them and cares. In caring for one another comes compassion and understanding. When you understand why some one is feeling a certain way, there seems to be less judgement.

    We need to slow down, take a deep breath and listen. James said it in the bible: "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen,slow to speak, and slow to get angry....(James 1:19)

    Peace to you all and God Bless!

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  43. practice compassion not judgement ... 4 words and a whole lot of wisdom!

    nice one [again] Les :)

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  44. Very well said. I agree with you. Thanks for sharing! :-)

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  45. Thank you Les, your beautiful words are directed from the heart and I hope and pray that mine beats with the same sentiments. I am sure that if the loved ones of the Norway victims and Amy and others who have died were to read this, they would feel the hug of your words bringing much comfort. I also feel this is a real hug for humanity too- and truly inspiring, offering a way forward from dangerous and ugly habits. Compassion is what I choose. I am glad you have the gift to write in this way to bring us a very pertinent and significant message. Much love from Mel XXX

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  46. You know Les, I have been reading your blog and absolutely been loving it. I've never commented but after reading this I just had to say you hit the nail on the head. Amazing. Your heart is in the right place and I couldn't agree more with this post. I actually felt a tingle when I read this. That's a lot of reaction for me.

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  47. Very well put. We today have what I like to call selective compassion. Depending on the persons status is how much sympathy they have thrown upon them. Winehouse was a talent that never reached her full potential but because she struggled with an addiction she is less worthy than those who died in Norway. Glad to see you put it into perspective. A loss is a loss and sympathy should be equal.

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  48. Thank you. Off to share this with as many people as I can. Hugs!

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  49. Well put, Les. And even as we consider the tragic death of a young woman, the tragic deaths of almost a hundred innocents, or even the the tragic deaths of infants, children, mothers, elderly, (the thousands caught up in a famine and other disasters most of the world chooses to ignore) mental pain is often hidden on our own doorstep. You are so right, being kind and non-judgmental to others and also to ourselves, must surely spread a little happiness and help bring in a Kingdom of Heaven — whatever that phrase may mean to each one of us. Surely, we all need that Awakening.

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  50. Hi Les, it seems a lot of folks have weighed in on this one. Obviously, these events have touched us all. Truly, the events in Norway are horific, and the death of one so young and talented as Amy Winehouse is a sadness for us all. I feel there may be yet another connection between the two events, mental illness. In the case of Amy Winehouse, I strongly suspect depression may have had an influence in her life, and, perhaps even in her death. As for the man in Norway, this is not the act of a stable mind. I grieve for the families of the dead, I pray for the injured, and I wonder about the killer. At what level was he aware of his actions. What imbalance makes a man get so wrong?

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  51. Les, thank you, a voice of calm and compassion. I was beginning to think that some people really had forgotten that in Amy W we are talking a human being like any other. When a 27 year old dies, how can it ever be anything other than sad? Saddest is that she hadn't found happiness before she died. Brilliant post, thank you.

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  52. Man that speaks volumes to me. R.I.P. everyone. It's so sad that these things happen in our world today... addiction is a deadly disease and it affects a lot of people. As for the the shooter, I feel no sympathy for him. The victims my fullest sympathy is with them and their families what a shame.

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  53. Really great post. We just don't practice compassion for each other enough.

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  54. Wonderful post. Eloquently written.

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  55. Brilliantly expressed and written. I believe all the negative consequences of negative minds come from one thing, hatred. Hating others, hating oneself. My heart goes out to all the families of the victims in Norway. And to the wonderful talent, Amy Winehouse, you added so much colour to the music industry. Rest in Peace.

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  56. This was a wonderful post! And I feel you really brought to light what many of us were feeling.

    I do feel, however, that one should practice judgement AND compassion. Judgement, as another commenter posted, is a natural process that keeps us safe. Compassion will keep us balanced.

    What one does with one's judgement is what will define our level of compassion.

    Just a thought.

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  57. I hear this calm and soothing voice each time I come around here. Meeting you on twitter was definitely worth it.

    As for the issue you brought up in this post, I don't want to get myself started but I tell you, these words are magnificent. I pray for more sane people in this world with compassionate hearts and a reasonable mind.

    Cheers!

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  58. Well said. We are all human and none of us are better than, or worse than anyone else.

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  59. Good, intriguing analysis of the Norway / Winehouse events.

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  60. The 2 biggest stories, brought.down to a human level, with true compassion for anyone coping with life, or loss, wonderful & it couldn't of been worded better.

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  61. Thank you all so much for the comments! I'm going to get round to answering them all over the course of the week... was a bit of a surprise to get so many, but it's obviously a theme you're all very passionate about.

    I'm very thankful for all the views and opinions expressed here. You're an excellent bunch of people to follow! :-)

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  62. Man, you have a great blog. Where've I been?

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  63. Beautiful! Like a cool spring in a dry desert. So glad to find you!!! :-)

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  64. I really liked this ! You cant say other loss is smaller than the other People will grieve the same way the Norway losses and Winehouse ! None of these people should have died !

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  65. Very well written & true for each human being. Compassion, kindness & love for self, spread these virtues to others you meet in our world. Just like a ripple on a pond. Without these virtues, the human race is doomed. Each of us, can make a positive difference in our world.
    Thank you for writing such a beautiful blog.

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  66. All too often, we take the frustration over our perceived impotence in the face of tragedies like these, and convert it to anger, accusing the perpetrators. Yet it is anger like this over other injustice, real or imagined, that drove them to commit whatever atrocity.

    Thank you, Les, for pointing out compassion is the only way to break this vicious cycle.

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  67. Les, this was truly an insightful post. You said it all so well. I know people who are compassionate but are full of judgement, and they are "christian". The mix confuses me. Their "I am better than you" attitude infuriorates me. Evil people like Bin Laden, Hilter, etc definately lacked compassion, but they also were lacking in many other things. We are definately better off without these types of people and there are more out there, but on a lesser scale. Thanks for writing this! Very good! ~Ranae Arnold

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  68. Choosing compassion is, through many eyes, a wise choice. But it is not the only choice, otherwise everyone would be making it. The mere fact that we all have a choice, shows the utmost compassion by whatever term you decide to use to describe the divine creator.

    Amy Whinehouse made her choice, and perhaps in ways unknown, it was made out of compassion. Maybe not, but it was her choice, and no other.

    Compassion links us all. It is a driving force in keeping "us" on this planet a little longer.

    But it is not the only choice...

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  69. Superb post, although Amy did make her choices, unlike the unfortunate people who died in the atrocity in Norway, she was a tortured soul & a great talent, to say she deserved to die just because her ways were flawed is too judgemental for any mortal, everyone has flaws, makes mistakes, screws up, some people make it through, some don't. But at the end of the day her parents were burying their little girl just like the poor parents of the shooting had too, and their pain was no less. Compassion is compassion and shouldn't be segregative

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  70. Thank you for highlighting a subject we will all face eventually - the energy created around judgement. And thank you for caring so much and inspiring so many others to care as well. You truly make a difference Les!

    A wise old man once said to me - "I no longer need to forgive anyone because I choose not to condemn anyone - I choose to live in peace and love instead". It was such wonderful wisdom and from that day - I made a conscious effort to let go of judgement - even of those lost souls that do condemn others - I am not always good at it - and I am very good at judging myself - but I am getting "there" - and it feels so good!

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  71. This is a wonderful post, beautifully written. I once stumbled into a 'Christian' forum and they had a thread called '101 Reasons Why God Hates Spastics'. I was so shocked I thought it must be a joke.We need more compassion, more tolerance, more acceptance of differences to heal this world.

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  72. A beautifully well thought out post. Moving to read. It's so sad when people judge heartlessly. x @Chaoskay

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  73. Beautifully said. And you've really got me thinking too. Thank you.

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  74. Casting 'judgement' upon others is like placing one's self upon high, and assuming God's role. You won't catch me doing such a thing intentionally. People who cast judgement cannot be privy to the full extent of the facts. Therefore, they would be in error of judging in either direction of events, either for or against.

    Compassion is what humans can give with the least amount of effort, if they only decided to make the choice to do so.

    In the case of Amy's death, most do not know the things other people do within the entertainment industry to those with talent. I've been there. I've lived it, and have seen some of the horrors of it first hand. Mental abuse is the most widely used act, tearing down and attempting to humble someone with any amount of artistic ability. All of it done in the effort to shift the balance of profits towards the producers & their backers. This is just one of many things I've seen.

    I'm very sorry to learn of the deaths of anyone, whether artist or no, and I cannot understand violence in any form (be it mentally, or physically inflicted).

    My heart goes out to all in this time of loss.

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  75. Ironic. I followed your Tweets...newbie on Twitter...to your blog. I actually posted about Amy the day after she died and then deleted. I was worried/self-conscious about peoples' reaction even though in my heart I felt secure. She was brave, real, vulnerable. But, above all she was a person. If she was my daughter (I have 2), I would wish for a sliver of compassion from the public who loved her before she died. We all did. We envied her success, her talent, her soul. I did. Kind of reminds me of Marilyn Monroe, Anna Nicole, and many others. We hold them high. So high that when they fall, we use it to feel better about ourselves. Are we awake yet? Judgement is a mirror we hold up to others. And when they fall, we turn it to others when we should be turning it toward ourselves. Thanks for the post. Better late than never. Me.

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