"Compassion is the emotion that one feels in response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to help. Compassion is really the act of going out of your way to help physical, spiritual, or emotional hurts or pains of another."
Today is World Day of Social Justice and it is the day a group of bloggers choose to flood the Blogosphere with good - it all started here : https://summat2thinkon.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/we-all-need-the-village/
I wanted to be a part of this movement because through people who have touched my life with their compassion for my circumstances I have found in me a the ability to still feel compassion for others and so give back.
In the midst of our own pain and struggles we often forget that we are not the only ones suffering. When we get told 'this too shall pass' or 'somebody else is worse off than you' often the knee jerk reaction is to bite back and say NO - nobody has it as hard as what I have it. You right, nobody can have it as hard as you do - because they don't live your life. But they can have compassion and they can try and understand and support you. At the same token it is not for you to judge anybody else for the choices they make, the life they live, the path they follow. That is their journey, not yours.
But this is why we need compassion - for connection.
This is what makes us all human. What keeps us all bound together. The feeling of compassion for our fellow human beings. It makes us entwine our lives around that of others. We realise that we alone cannot rid the world of its evils. That we alone cannot take on the world. We need connection. But to do that we need to understand others. And to understand others we need compassion.
Sadly although now a 'global village' connected via the web and switched on 24/7 365 days of the year we are no longer village. We share stronger connections with strangers on Facebook then we do with our neighbours across the road. This is how neglected kids, abused women, malnourished animals and all manner of evil and no good has managed to creep into the very fabric of our society, our neighbourhoods, our schools. We are too busy behind our computers and locked in our homes to connect with those physically around us.
We trawl the social networks and comment on both the famous and ordinary people whose misfortune it may be to have their piece of tragedy spread across the net. We all know how quickly stories can go viral, true or not. I, a strong supporter of women's rights, found myself removing myself from various 'Feminist' groups after a number of stories appeared around a transgender issue and the mother at the centre of the storm was vilified to such extremes that some were calling for her death. This because she could not accept her son wanted to be a girl. And her way of dealing with it was not acceptable to a good 85% of the people who posted on the threads.
Not one shred of compassion was shown for a mother who was burying her 17 year old son. No parent should have to bury their child. I myself am the mother of a 17 year old boy and in the midst of all of what was being said I was able to find that compassion she needed, to put myself in her position and understand that no matter what people were saying she was just a mom who had just lost her child. While I didn't agree with all the steps she had taken the bottom line was she was a mom and her child had died and she was in pain. People had no right to say the things they did. The lack of compassion is what drove a lack of connection. It turned into a spat between personalities and the issues at hand were completely sidelined.
It was a massive driving factor in my decision to lead a more mindful life going forward. And that included being more watchful of what I was reading. I can still support women's rights but I am taking a stand by not supporting pages who allow another woman to be so dreadfully abused, all in the name of freedom of speech.
Don't get me wrong. I would never for anything give up any of the connections I have made via Facebook or other social media I use. It is those friends which have played a huge part in my road to recovery. That sense of knowing that I'm not alone in this little spot on the planet. That some of the problems I have are shared far and wide. And that people are able to understand and have compassion towards me. It is with their encouragement that I now write these pieces. That I publish them. That I don't worry if nobody reads it because I know my words are strong enough regardless. They, and other people in my life, understood when nobody else could or would.
To paraphrase Lizzi Rogers whose blog started all of this "If you look after whoever is standing next to you and they look after whoever is next to them and they look after the next one and the next one so eventually it will go full circle and you will be looked after by whoever is on the other side of you"
There is your village.
What we need to do though is incorporate both our online and offline villages so that we extend that village and we don't miss what is outside our front door and we make sure our online friends know they part of our village to. As a very good friend realised this week when he vanished for 6 days without saying he would be offline.... you know who you are.
Compassion for me is the reminder that I feel. That I am alive. That I can sympathise with others pain and want to help them heal. Even if all I can do is offer a gentle smile, a hug, a virtual "I'm here". It isn't the big gestures. The people who have reached out to me haven't made grand gestures. They have just let me know they are there and they aren't leaving. And they don't judge me even though I judge myself harshly. There actions have allowed me to find in me the strength to keep paying the compassion forward.
Be compassionate. Connect. Love.
Remember we are all human. We all bleed the same, breathe the same, cry the same, smile the same, laugh the same, die the same. None of us are better than the other and we all deserve love and acceptance. And that starts with compassion for each others circumstances and choices.
Compassion and love is what makes us and what keeps us human.