Recently I was driving a shuttle bus for Landmark College students. Landmark College serves students who have a diagnosed learning disability (such as dyslexia), or other learning difficulties such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). I had dropped the students off to shop locally earlier and was now returning to pick them up to return to campus. As I drove up to the store entrance I noticed two middle-aged men standing and talking. One of them pointed to the bus and started walking in a circle dragging a leg and jerking his arms about wildly. They were both laughing.
I instantly became very angry. My first impulse was to get out of the bus and have words with them. Then I thought, there are no students on the bus seeing this act of cruelty, only me. I can take this, I can use the years of compassion training that I have learned in my meditation group in this situation. I looked at these men and sent compassion their way. I turned the other cheek.
Surprisingly the men stopped laughing and acting out. The students filed out of the store and climbed into the bus and we drove away. They were none the wiser for what had just happened. I felt gratitude that they did not have to deal with one more burden from a society that often does not understand the difficulties that they face.
Coda: Query; is “turning the other cheek” an act of compassion?