I have a confession to make: I love watching “Dog The Bounty Hunter”. In the episodes that are shot in Hawaiʻi (as contrasted with those shot in Colorado) I often recognize places where I have been (and long to be again) which gives me a thrill! But more than that I watch The Dog because of his interesting blend of toughness and compassion. As he himself admits, The Dog… like all of us… has made mistakes in his past life. And although he has turned his life around he has not shoved those mistakes out of his awareness. He deliberately remembers that he once was just as the ones he now hunts are. And when he finally “gets his man” (or wahine as the case may be) he treats them with respect and compassion. This is what repentance should look like.
Repentance is a turning around, a turning away from how we should not be toward who we should be. An awareness of our own mistakes should give birth to a sense of kinship with other people, a feeling of gratitude for the mercy shown us, and result in our treating them with compassion when they make their own mistakes.
Compassion, however, does not mean sparing others the consequences of their choices. We do others no favor when we don’t insist on their embracing kuleana, on their being responsible for their choices since choices have consequences… not only for ourselves but for others as well. If we have really repented of our own wrong choices then the proof should manifest by our dealing with others compassionately. For the Dog that means offering them a cigarette or a sandwich as well as advice from his own mistakes, even while driving them off to jail.
Compassion doesn’t mean that anything goes. At the same time, showing others compassion can make it easier for them to embrace their own kuleana.