Compassion is not only free, it is a gift from the soul. A precious smile, a light in the dark, a friendly ear, loving arms. To show compassion you must walk in another’s shoes. You must set aside prejudice, judgement and expectation.
Today over a thousand people will be talking about compassion; an entire online community with a shared aim. A desire to unite, to share the importance of love and understanding – to become a village.
I’ve read some wonderful quotes on the topic over the last few weeks, and one of my favourites is by Thich Nhat Hanh who said, Compassion is a verb. So simple, and yet effective, because in order to show compassion, we must take action – we must do something.
This wonderful community we belong to is worldwide, but for a moment, I’d like to take the subject closer to home. Often, it is easier to lend a hand to a stranger, than it is to those closest to us. My grandfather used to say ‘charity begins at home’ and I never really understood that before. Now I think he meant we must set an example.
Having sympathy for someone, the desire to take action and help alleviate suffering, it shouldn’t be reserved for the wider community. If someone we know has a bad day, isn’t feeling well, or just received bad news, then we should take a moment to consider how we might help. Do something to brighten their day, make them feel better, or simply be a shoulder to lean on. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes we have high expectations, especially of those closest to us, and those expectations can blind us to the truth.
Sometimes, when we are in a situation, when it’s too close, it can be hard to take a step back. Our emotions cloud our judgement, our own hurts blur the lines. The fact is, we might not always agree or even understand, but we should give consideration to another’s feelings and show sensitivity. Setting an example for those closest to us means being tolerant, showing leniency and kindness – doing whatever we can to alleviate suffering. All these things speak of compassion.
In an age where we no longer go out of our way to help our neighbours, and instead cross the street just to avoid them, we should consider that every one of us is battling against something. A small act of kindness can make the difference. In a lot of ways we have forgotten how to communicate. Instead of picking up the phone we send a text, but what if the person on the other end would welcome the sound of your voice? What if that one simple act of kindness is as good as a lifeline on a cold and lonely day?
Every person on the planet is different, it’s what makes us unique, and diversity is a beautiful thing. Our desire to help, to forgive, and to love, those are strengths we should allow to shine. So celebrate those strengths, and help others to do the same. We are all in this together.