“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” –Dalai Lama
“Here are the values that I stand for: honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values.” –Ellen DeGeneres
Recent events in my family have made me wonder why some people are filled with caring and compassion for their fellow human beings and why others aren’t. I guess it’s not only that. The political climate is so volatile right now, not just in our country but almost everywhere in the world that there are times when I wonder if we’re going to make it as a species.
Then I remember that there are lots of individuals and organizations that are working to make this world a better place to live. Some do it the way I do, on a one-to-one basis, and others are working on a global scale. That gives me hope, because just lately, I’ve been feeling down about the whole situation in the world. Sometimes it’s difficult being a very sensitive empath.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve picked up the feelings of others. For many years I didn’t understand why my mood would suddenly change from happy to sad, or anxious and fearful. Then I realized, it was because I was like a magnet, picking up the feelings of others. Even after learning how to shield myself from the feelings of others, I struggle with being extremely sensitive.
Some mornings I wake up feeling anxious and I don’t know why. For the most part my life is running smoothly. I’ve learned to accept that challenges happen, and though I may temporarily be thrown off balance, I’m able to right myself and move forward knowing all is well.
However, that’s not the case for everyone. Some people are so full of fear they do and say hurtful things to those around them.
So what can we do to change the situation in which we find ourselves besides work on finding our own inner peace? I think practicing compassion is something we can do to help move the evolutionary process along.
Right after I graduated from high school, I took a job at a Montessori school as a teacher’s aide. I’d decided that I wanted to work for a few years before attending college. One day something happened in the classroom, and I was dealing with an angry little boy. The specifics of the incident have faded over the years, but I remember saying to him, “It’s okay, you can be mad at me. I can take it.” I’ll never forget the look of relief on that boys face. So many conflicting emotions had been fighting for supremacy. I could see them reflected in his body language. That’s when I told him it was okay to feel anger. I don’t know what made me tell him it was okay, but I remember feeling compassion for him. He was a powerless child confronted by an adult who had power over him. Then I’d given him permission to feel his feelings.
I know that the people I’m angry with have more money and external power than I do. But, their world is crumbling and they have no idea how to stop it. They are resisting the tidal wave of change that they didn’t see coming. That makes me feel sad for them. Some instinct tells me that the one way we can speed up the awakening process is to practice compassion in every interaction in which we participate. Calling the bully names, and treating them the way they treat us doesn’t make them back down. It makes them dig in their heels and put up more resistance. So, I propose trying a different tack. Show them compassion.
Here’s a site where you can get some tips about how to do that, or even begin to participate in building a compassionate world. Karen Armstrong, author of many books including, A History of God, and Twelve Steps for a Compassionate Life, has begun the organization Charter for Compassion which is a world wide project to educate people and inspire a change in the way we live our lives on all levels. This is just one of many organizations with whom I’m connected.
When I read the emails of groups like this that are trying to help us turn from fear, close-mindedness and hatred, to love and compassion, I’m encouraged. Maybe we can evolve. Maybe I can let go of my anger and help make the world a better place to live.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014
4 thoughts on “We Need Compassion”
I really appreciated your words today because they remind of a very recent incident. I have a very old connection from when I spent some time in Georgia. This man is a very interesting blend. He is very passionate and has always struggled with spirituality. Recently he posted a comment which he did to draw out the emotion in others, rather than responding and reacting most of us took a very compassionate course. We expressed our thoughts while honoring his and our intention was to broaden his views not limit them. He responded with compassion in return, eventually. I can feel that deep desire to react so much and I work on practicing noticing, allowing, and CHOOSING what comes next. It’s a very tricky dance lots of the time and yet it has shifted a great deal in my life.
I have had to learn that in not wanting to judge I don’t have to give up discernment. In fact, I probably need it more now than ever. Being so sensitive for me means discerning what does and does not serve me. It can be a real challenge to set limits which honor me and don’t isolate others. Yet again a tricky dance and one so very worthwhile.
Thanks Sue. I guess that’s what life is, an adventure. It’s so great that you responded in such a loving way.
It’s so beautiful to be with one another in compassion. It starts small, one moment at a time. It’s not easy, and we are far far! from perfect, but in being willing to forgive ourselves, and others, and continue on again in a spirit of compassion is really what’s it all about.
I agree Janet. Thanks.