Hi all, I had no idea this topic had gotten so many replies. I thank everyone for their inputs.
I mistitled the OP. It should have written 'How can we have compassion for those who have abused children
'? (and of course it is quite specific, in that my ire is really towards those who perform the worst kinds of abuse - torture, sexual, etc., and not
towards anyone who has ever flown off the handle and smacked their kids from time to time - an important distinction to make, imo!).
I'm grateful for the folks who have pointed out that fault. We cannot really define someone by what they have done. Otherwise Anglimala, once he had ceased from harming living beings, and was living the life of a gentle monk under Buddha's guidance, would still have been referred to as a 'murderer'. But that doesn't make sense. When he killed living beings, people called him a murderer. When he became an Arahant, people called him a saint. But really, does any
label or designation actually belong to us, or we to it?
I am tempted to change the title, but I will leave it for now, because it has stirred up some discussion. But I must now say that I agree with what others have said here: there is no such thing as a 'child abuser', there are just 'persons who have abused children' (and who need to be sentenced and locked up, btw!!); and on a deeper level still, it's hard to find any essence we can rightly assign 'personhood' to. Is a person form, feelings, perception, fabrications or consciousness? Clearly not any one of the above, but then, what?? And so I don't wish to label people as 'abusers' or 'normal people' or 'saints' anymore, I feel like all such designations are misleading, false. And so the answer to my original question, as some have pointed out, is that the way I can have compassion for the 'child abuser' is the same way I can have compassion for the person who gives me a bad look while walking down the street, or the wasp that stings me under my clothing. They do what they do out of ignorance,
just as I also sometimes let myself or others down, due to my not seeing things as they really are. So I, the children, the child abusers, the decent folk - we are all
in a difficult situation! In that (mostly), we have not seen the truth! So it's not a question of 'deserve'
love, but a question of 'need'
love. I mean, who 'deserves' love, anyway? And who is 'unworthy' of love? How are we going to decide? How many bad actions have to be perfomed by someone before we 'turn off the tap', and decide that they are 'unworthy' of our kindness? I know I still make such judgements myself, but I am beginning to see the error of it. Maybe the Buddha is right, just let go of making distinctions and send out metta equally to all beings. This is challenging, indeed, but I imagine a perpetrator's mind must be a pretty dark place. They do
need love and compassion, it's just that their physical bodies need to be locked up in jail
while we send it out to them! (and to everyone else, without making distinctions). And yet,
knowing in this life a few people who were hurt by adults in a bad way, whilst they were children - and incidentally, who would never
continue that cycle of abuse by hurting a child themselves - (it is anathema to them!) - I have a personal stance on this issue, as well as a commonsense one. Children need and deserve protection from sexual and physical abuse, and the current state of affairs is woefully inadequate as regards reporting, prosecution, conviction, and sentencing.
The law generally is biased in favour of the abuser. That's still my 'sammuti sacca' POV. (And my more considered
point of view, without the 'heat' & anger of the OP).
with metta - may all beings be at ease