I don’t see my daughter very often because she lives in Toronto and in September she will be moving to the USA for further schooling. But when I do see her, she seems to create a learning experience for me each time. I remember once I moved her to tears by depicting someone as ugly because of their particular physical feature. Without knowing I was linking the persons feature to ugliness. Since then I’ve been careful not to fall pray to this common illusion of linking some aspect of physical appearance to ugliness. We as a society do this all the time; obesity and baldness for example are quite often viewed as bad and therefore ugly.

What moved my daughter to tears was my blindness to destructiveness when I thought I was pursing the pleasant, the beautiful and the good. Just as Hitler believed that he was pursuing the “good” by  the creating a more perfect society with more perfect people and left millions suffering and dead. And he was a vegetarian because he hated cruelty to animals!

Indeed, that is the very nature of the problem, that in the name of seeking the best and the most beautiful, we became out of control. I don’t know of anyone who has become out of control by seeking “ugliness.” But surely, ugliness is just our conception; being overweight and being bald is just outward appearance; inside they could be the most beautiful people, we just have to look deeper.

Some cultures today believe that our Western society has become out of control in the name of pursuing the the “Good.” Indeed, they think our devouring, polluting and exploiting ways are evil. There may be element of truth in that but one has to be careful in making these kinds of sweeping judgement. There is also lot of good in the West.

The compassionate point is to focus on what is common to all of us: that we struggle with our own feelings and urges, that we can open our eyes and not be deluded by the false realities we are creating around us.


The Compassionate Mind  by Paul Gilbert

Leave a comment


  1. T. Duncan

     /  May 17, 2012

    Hey Chana, I love the heart in youn that reflects on such important issues. I appreciate the comment on ugliness you made when we worked together this week. It seems this is very relavant in healthcare. For example, I recently encountered a healthcare colleague who stated that a, ” ‘Baba’ was a patriach, a respected and strong male family leader. I pointed out to him that in Ukraninan a ‘Baba’ was a grandmother. He replied, “Oh, an old lady.” It seemed as though the the leadership, wisdon an strength of this ‘Baba’ evaaporated instantly. Could such a perspective affect the respect, care and respect given to the frail or unatractive older woman patients? Could it be that such perspectives in healthcare workers creates a feeling of greater personal strength, intellegence, wisdom and contol by puting the ‘Baba-the old lady’ beneath us? I wonder… . I believe this is a lesson to us all-to not judge the value of another bsed on their age, gender or value to humaity. Otherwise, we may have already disregared one with the wisdom of angles, the one who could potenially cure cancer, the one who could rescue us from unbridadled judgement and save us from our unbridled egos. It seems to me that the words of a song from a Grey nun friend, “Blessed are those who love the unattractive” are so true. “Your friend, T.D.

    • Very thoughtful comment. I agree with you , we need to be mindful and respect all humanity – the good ,the bad and the ugly !
      Thank you.

  2. T. Duncan

     /  May 23, 2012

    I apologize for the mispellings and the improper grammer…I made changes before I subitted it-but it did changes did not come forward to you send. I dunno what happened.
    With respect and affection, Tracy RN


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