Quite often, in a disasater we see people from all walks of life, who would otherwise not have a good word to say to each other; come together to help ease the suffering of those worse off. Is this the only time that compassion rises in us. Is compassion temporary? Is it only applicable when we think ‘There but for the grace of God go I’
When applying that same concept black relationships – does compassion still have a place?
I have heard black men and women say of each other ‘they’re selfish’ is this because what they are seeing is a lack of compassion for each other? Are they thinking, ‘I’m in the same boat as you, so it’s every man for himself, if you won’t help you, don’t look at me’?
In exploring this with a cross section of people, it seems as though, for the most part, misunderstanding or emotional instability, is where their thoughts of selfishness is coming from. Compassion, like love, is seen in different ways to different people.
We like to think of ourselves as compassionate, but are we really? Is our compassion dependant on the relationship between us and the other party? Are we most compassionate to strangers, than people we love? Do we expect more of people we know, BECAUSE we know them and so the level of compassion is different? Is there a point where compassion stops and regard for self starts?
To be compassionate for others can be regarded as ‘putting yourself in there shoes’ and treating others in a way we’d like to be treated in that situation. Often times though we can’t imaging being in that situation or understand why the person has allowed themselves to be in that predicament. Another way to regard compassion is understanding that our own personal development may not be the same as someone else’s therefore a helping hand on their journey from us, is showing compassion.
The Miriam Webster dictionary defines compassion as ‘the sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress with the desire to alleviate it’ Maybe the key words are ‘sympathetic’ and ‘desire’. Sympathy has many different meanings – to feel the same way as another, to support anothers” deas, to pity etc. Desire is to want something fervently, so depending on how much we sympathise and in what capacity and our level of desire – our level of compassion differs. Would we really sympathise with someone’s feelings and want to alleviate their suffering if they have hurt us previously?
Compassion, forgiveness and love are not for the feint of heart. It takes a strength that many of us aspire to or think we have, but in reality – often we fall short. Do we kick ourselves for it? or accept it as part of being who we are and just do what we can without guilt or criticism?