The Way of Compassion

How Julio Diaz Got Mugged

By December 4, 2011 6 Comments

A few years ago, on the way to his favorite diner, Julio Diaz was mugged.
His is perhaps the most remarkable story of a mugging you’ll ever hear.
On an empty subway platform, a teenage boy approached Diaz, pulled out a knife, and demanded money. Diaz handed over his wallet.
Then, remarkably, Diaz said this: “If you’re going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm.”
The robber looked at him, confused.
Diaz explained to him, “If you’re willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me … hey, you’re more than welcome.”
The young mugger took him up on his offer. And the two went to dinner together, and talked.
When the check came, Diaz said, “Look, I guess you’re going to have to pay for this bill ’cause you have my money and I can’t pay for this. So if you give me my wallet back, I’ll gladly treat you.”
The teen handed him his wallet. Diaz paid the bill, and gave the teen $20 – hoping it would help him. Diaz also asked him for something in exchange for that $20: the knife. The teen easily gave it to him.
Diaz is a peacemaker. In his own way, he did what heroes of peacemaking like Nelson Mandela have done: met aggression with something other than aggression. In the face of violence, Diaz brought peace. In the face of pain, he created some healing. I call what he did an act of “visionary compassion” – because when we are in danger, it takes a special vision, beyond our normal perception, to see the need for compassion and the possibility of compassion.
A mugging is an extreme example, but in our lives, we are daily met with all kinds of threats – real or imagined. We encounter people and circumstances that we believe put who and what we love at risk. We feel attacked, or we are attacked.
All of us have a strong instinct within to choose one of two options: attack back or retreat in fear — fight or flight. Both, unfortunately, perpetuate more fear and violence in our world.
There is a third path. Some call it love, others compassion, others peace. It’s not about rolling over, or letting yourself be hurt. It’s about realizing that when people attack, they attack because of great pain within, and any wise response takes that into account.
What or who makes you feel attacked in your life right now? Where in your life are you attacking back, or running away in flight? What would it look like instead, to meet that person, those circumstances, with love and compassion? Women especially need to ask: how do I meet with this love and compassion, while also caring for my own safety and wellbeing?
You can hear Diaz tell his incredible story in his own voice here. Thanks to NPR’s Morning Edition for this story. (If you are reading this over email, click here to get the audio; scroll down in the post).

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Love & Hugs,

Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Kim says:

    That is an incredible story, Tara. Thank you for sharing it. And, it’s really made me think of areas where I feel attacked and how I can handle them differently.

  • Gwyn Michael says:

    What an amazing story! Ironically I wrote a fight or flight story today too 🙂

    Playing big requires a fight most times. Especially when the attacker turns out to be ourselves. You do beautiful work in bringing us back to ourselves Tara!

  • Such an inspiration Tara. It’s like Tai chi– or taking the path of least resistance. Easier said than done for most of us, however. Just like remembering to sit up straight, it takes consciousness and practice. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Laura Simms says:

    It can be hard not to be reactionary to attacks–it’s an attack after all! We’re hard-wired to protect ourselves from threats. I do find that when I’m most in peace, I will take a minute to ask myself, “Is this actually an attack?” “What’s going on for the other person?” This is definitely learned behavior. What a great story to illustrate.

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  • Chartric says:

    There is a critical shortage of inafimotrve articles like this.

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