On October 27, 2018, Robert Bowers went on an anti-Semitic rampage at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, which left eleven people murdered. Registered nurse Ari Mahler, who became known after that day as “the Jewish Nurse,” treated Bowers at the Allegheny General Hospital. Mahler stated his patient had no idea he was Jewish, and they did not speak at all of religion.
“I wanted him to feel compassion. I chose to show him empathy. I felt that the best way to honor his victims was for a Jew to prove him wrong,” Ari said, also stating, “I didn’t see evil in his eyes but a clear lack of depth, intelligence, and palpable moments of confusion.”
This amazing story prompts each of us to examine our morality and how we might react when being faced with hatred: can we respond with compassion? Or when we are faced with violence, can we respond with love?
This question is related to what I have written in Grow Up Your Ego:
"We are back to the beginning where the fullness of our humanness—the capacity to connect, nurture, and love—comes through the hands and the hearts of our caretakers and those who nurture and mentor us. We are back to the beginning of where religions have at their core the concept of love."
As we advance toward the evolutionary goal of culminated consciousness and unity—what Teilhard de Chardin (The Phenomenon of Man) called Point Omega—his words resound:
"All we may well need is to imagine our power of love developing until it embraces the total of men [and women] of the earth."
Perhaps you as a reader welcome these words or perhaps they have no meaning to you or maybe they even strike a dissonant chord. I’m curious: Do you respond emotionally to the news? Do you feel connected to what happens in another state or country? When the forces of the world affect you, personally—injustice and hatred, as well as compassion and assistance—how does it change you?
Try to imagine you were in Mahler’s shoes. Would you want to show compassion—or retaliation? In any case, it would be most helpful for you to share your thoughts about the above.