February 20th 2015: The day when 1000 voices are coming together to speak words of compassion into a world that desperately needs to hear them. I'm excited to be among those voices.
Webster defines compassion as: "Sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." Literally compassion means to "suffer together."
True compassion means not only feeling another's pain but also being moved to help relieve it.
Mankind has and is making unequaled progress on so many fronts. People are more connected globally than we've ever been before. Communication is instant and we no longer need to wonder about anything as Google is only a tap away. Many of these advancements have contributed greatly to the quality of life we enjoy. I wonder if they're also contributing to the decline of compassion.
We're confronted almost constantly with suffering via news stations, social media sites and printed news. Is this barrage of pain serving not only to inform us but also to dull our senses and heighten our tolerance to it?
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
-The Dalai Lama
How can we remain caring and have a desire to help alleviate the suffering of others when the sheer magnitude of distress exceeds our ability to completely comprehend it? How can we "save the world?" There's just too much to do and we, with all of our time saving creations, seem to have less time today than ever. Isn't it easier just to block it out - refuse to acknowledge the suffering in hopes that it will either take care of itself or someone else will take care of it? Isn't that why we pay taxes? So something will be done? These are all good questions, with no satisfactory answers.
Let us fill our hearts with our own compassion - towards ourselves and towards all living beings.
-Thich Nhat Hanh
-Thich Nhat Hanh
It is easy to become overwhelmed. It's even easier to pretend that suffering isn't real or is self imposed by the poor choices that others make. Sometimes that is the case after all. People do from time to time land on hard times through circumstances they helped to create. Don't we all?
Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.
When we're suffering ourselves, isn't the one thing we want from others compassion? Don't we want to be understood, heard, and directed? Compassion is an easy concept to understand when we're on the needing end of it. Its power to heal is completely evident then.
So, what can we do? Where do we even start with the overwhelming task at hand?
RIGHT WHERE WE ARE!
None of us can do everything, but each of us can do something. We can start in our homes to be more present and aware of the needs of those we love with a heart open to responding. We can carry it from there into our relationships with our friends and colleagues. We offer compassion to complete strangers as we encounter them on the roadways - heaven knows that compassion could make our commutes much less stressful.
We can seek first to understand, then to be understood. We can offer support to a grieving friend - take them a meal, offer to listen and just be with them.
COMPASSION DOES THE SPIRIT GOOD! PASS IT ON!
Compassion begins with awareness coupled with concern. It doesn't need to be some huge feat. It's often the small acts of tender kindness that mean the most to others. Just letting them know that they're not invisible and someone is aware of the burden they carry can do so much.
We can begin to make eye contact with those on the streets who are homeless. Show them that we recognize their inherent worth - even if we can't offer financial aid at that moment. We can afford a smile and a hello no matter how down on our luck we may be.
Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learned how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.
- Nelson Mandela
- Nelson Mandela
As transforming as a compassionate act can be for the one who receives it, it is even more transforming for the person offering it. It is impossible to serve another without our own hearts being lifted. We forget - even for just that moment - our own concerns. Our spirits are renewed.
The joy compassionate service brings is something we want to feel again and again. It reminds of us of something deep inside ourselves that has always been there even when unused. It connects our hearts to others making us feel less isolated and alone.
The individual is capable of both great compassion and great indifference. He has it within his means to nourish the former and outgrow the latter.
- Norman Cousins
Let this day, February 20, 2015, be the day when we recommit to our humanity. Let it be a defining moment when we open our eyes and see again. Let's find a way to lift a burden, share a sorrow, offer a helping hand.
Let's remember that we're all more alike than we will ever be different, that our human needs are the same. Let this be the day that your heart begins taking its daily recommended dose of joy born of compassionate concern for another. Let me offer you just this one warning:
WARNING: ACTS OF COMPASSION MAY BECOME ADDICTIVE AND HAZARDOUS TO YOUR APATHY.