The Challenge for Day 20
Today’s challenge is to write on the theme of Justice and what changes you would like to see in the world. I’m going to focus on Compassion because I think it is the best way forward for saving the planet. Read on and let me explain why…
What does it mean to have compassion? Is it the same thing as empathy? Empathy means feeling the emotions of others, but sometimes it can be over-powering, even leading us to despair. Just think how often you have to turn off the TV because you can’t take any more of those awful scenes. The children going blind because of a worm, the young men strewn lifeless on a battlefield, the dolphins suffocating in our plastic waste.
Compassion means taking these feelings and making sense of them, thus leading to a desire to help. We are now feeling FOR these victims, not WITH them and this changes our perspective. We no longer turn away in sadness, but develop positive strategies to ease their suffering. And that means a far healthier, happier and more peaceful world.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Dalai Lama
The judgment of others is the opposite of compassion. I’m thinking here of examples like the Mother and Baby homes that existed in Ireland in the past. These young women found themselves locked out from a society which liked to pretend it was perfect. Whatever that means. And so it fell to the leaders of the time, the Church, to take them in. On the surface, it may have looked like compassion but in reality, it was something much darker. Their babies were literally pulled from their arms and often shipped off to foreign countries. Many babies died and were buried in questionable circumstances.
This type of judging is not confined to the past, of course. We see it all around us, especially in the treatment of refugees. Those who label them as “criminals, rapists, drug dealers”. All painted with the same brush, tarnished goods. But these are all human beings, just like us. It’s just a coincidence of birth that we are the ones in the fast lane, waving at their misfortune as we drive past. We can’t just blame politicians, though they do wield a lot of influence. We have to look deep into our own hearts, is this the best humanity has to offer its’ weakest members?
“The world doesn’t belong to leaders. The world belongs to all humanity.” Dalai Lama
Each of us is just a tiny blip in time, a speck of cosmic dust, a smattering of DNA. Sometimes I think that in our rush to dominate the world, we forget how insignificant we really are. We are just passengers here on Earth, coexisting with all other forms of life, taking care of our planet for future inhabitants. At least, that’s the ideal. But our lack of compassion towards other people seems to have broadened into something more general. Garbage strewn oceans, decimated forests, polluted skies all leading to the destruction of natural habitats. And that’s before we even get to Global Warming. Is this the best legacy we can offer future generations?
I’m going to leave the last word to Albert Einstein, a man who certainly understood the importance of a compassionate world.
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
Day 20 of My 500 Words 31 Day Challenge hosted by Jeff Goins
The photograph is my own.