Compassion is a fine thing. Yet life - or maybe I should say the hardships of life - robs us of our compassion, namely our ability to connect and feel for another human being. Maybe we have suffered at the hands of others and so we think, to be hurt is normal. Thus, we apply logic and say, "Nah, he/she does not deserve our benevolence. He/she should live with the consequence of his/her choices."
It is logical. It has an almost mystical reasoning. Yet without compassion, humanity is reduced to a rubble of body parts.
I have a 52 year old friend. He has HIV and his end is not far. As a former doctor, I am comfortable with death, because death is the only thing that is promised to us at birth. We live, and we die. It is part of the cycle. But how we live matters, for my friend and also for you.
My friend has made some choices that many might think of as 'bad'. I certainly do not condone some of his choices. But on the whole, he has been a decent human being, not much different really from you and I. In all the time that I have known him, he has always been decent to me. He has always been just a call away. Yet he asks for nothing in return. He has done many good things for many people and it was always done without the expectations of being thanked or rewarded.
Now, he needs some compassion. He is suffering so much, rotting away in a hospital far from home. But I am surprised how seemingly nice people -both religious and spiritual - have such harsh judgements for someone who is at the end of his time. Who are we to judge what someone deserves? There is no perfect human being, and thus, we are bestowed with compassion so that we can forgive others of their wrongdoings as we can begin to forgive ourselves.
But through my friend's suffering, I am shown the beauty of compassion, too. Our expat community had gotten together to shoulder the responsibility for my friend. One guy, a buddy, took on the role of primary carer, visiting everyday bringing food and handling everything. When I spoke to him, I can hear his emotional exhaustion. Another person, who barely knew my friend, helped with the airfare. My children's father said that my friend can move into our house should he need somewhere to stay. Sadly, my friend is not well enough to leave the hospital.
So this is what I have learnt in recent days. Compassion is ours to give, and it is a fine gift. All we need to do is suspend fallible logic and connect with the love that is deep within us, without needing to know the story, applying logic and making judgments. After all, it is free, is it not? And it makes the world a better place all round.
If you believe in the power of compassion, you might want to sign the Charter of Compassion:
- We believe that a compassionate world is a peaceful world.
- We believe that a compassionate world is possible when every man, woman and child treats others as they wish to be treated--with dignity, equity and respect.
- We believe that all human beings are born with the capacity for compassion, and that it must be cultivated for human beings to survive and thrive. Join to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Embrace the compassion revolution.
Please click here.