When I first arrived on Okinawa more than fifty years ago almost everyone told me that I would not want to leave at the end of my tour of duty. They were right. Okinawa’s white sand beaches and turquoise waters were breathtakingly beautiful. Lush green covered the island, and I slowly discovered how much I liked it. I was mostly surrounded by Americans. I saw only Americans where I lived, ate, and shopped. Even the beaches were filled with Americans.
The courageous law enforcement officers who risked their jobs and reputations by refusing to return to Standing Rock are much more aware of themselves, their values, and the world than I was on Okinawa. How can we judge their colleagues who are less aware without expecting others to judge us when we also do the best we can? (Jesus asked us this question).
We can instead hold everyone at Standing Rock in our hearts and pray for their health and safety – police officers, pipeline workers, water protectors, veterans, reporters, and guests. We can be compassionate with all of them. Compassion is the medicine that we give to ourselves at the same time that we give it to others. When we become compassionate with others, we become compassionate with ourselves too. The Standing Rock gathering, like every experience in the Earth school, offers us opportunities to give and receive this medicine.