Most of us would probably consider ourselves to be compassionate. We care about the plight of others... the poor, the hungry, the sick, the neglected, and the abused, the victims of prejudice, unfairness, and cruelty of all kinds. It is fairly easy to care about everything and everyone - all the popular causes, and even those not so popular - from a distance. We speak out in protest, and we write our words of opposition with great fervor, but are we willing to take it one step further... to make compassion the central core of our beings and our lives?
Compassion, like the love it springs from, must start at home with our families, friends and neighbors - where we work, where we go to school, and where we live. We must teach our children to be compassionate toward all living creatures, toward each other, and toward those who are different from themselves. We must teach them to be kind and to desire to reach out and alleviate the suffering of others in any way they can.
We must learn to be compassionate toward ourselves, to be as forgiving and loving toward ourselves as we are with others. We must learn to value ourselves and believe in our God-given abilities and talents. We must accept that life is a learning experience, and over time we will come to be the kind of people we set our sights on being. We need to learn to nurture ourselves, and to heal ourselves, so that we will have the energy, ability, and resources to help others.
We must believe in the ability of ourselves as just one person to make a difference - a powerful difference - in the life of anyone who is suffering in ways we can see, and often can't see. We must find in ourselves the courage to speak up, to reach out, and to do so without passing judgment on whether someone is deserving of our caring. We must be willing to persevere in a world that can be calloused and sometimes mocking of our efforts. We must believe in the power of love.
Compassion begins with me, it begins in the way I treat myself, my children, my spouse, my coworkers, my customers (or clients, or patients); it begins with the way I treat those I do not know and who will likely never be a position to return the favor to me. Compassion begins when I learn to see the heart of Jesus in every living being, and to live my life wanting to do all I can to make the lives of others a little easier, a little better, a little happier. There is no greater calling, and there is no greater source of joy.
This post was written for 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion
Over 1000 bloggers and video-makers from all around the world
coming together to speak for compassion on February 20, 2015