Compassion?

Have we forgotten to be kind? Have we forgotten to be understanding?  Have we forgotten compassion?

Increasingly, we are faced with challenging decisions about who, when and what to let into our lives and space of concern and care. The communal approach is fraught with issues of trust and so our shields go up cutting us off from the vulnerability of feeling and seeing our own faults, especially when these are reflected back by another.

And, yes, I know I am making broad generalizations and perhaps oversimplifying a very complex way of personal being that evolves from multiple sources of experience. Maybe for some of you are questioning the place of compassion in making your way through all that life offers, some of my thoughts may urge you to explore a little deeper.

Have we forgotten to be kind?
My daughter recently related to me an experience her boyfriend had encountering a homeless and blind man in Austin. She tells of how there is a large population of blind and homeless individuals that frequent the night streets of Austin’s club scene. This young man was laying on the curb and people were simply walking over him or completely ignoring him. Her boyfriend, stopped to ask the man if he was okay and found that he was disoriented and wasn’t sure where he was. Unsteady, the young man was helped to her boyfriend’s car and taken to the nearest shelter for food and care.

This is not an unusual sight in most cities, where the homeless population has risen exponentially and mistrust of the intentions of “these people” has risen as well. And, in some cases it is right to be cautious, but there is a spirit of kindness that demands nothing more than asking if another is “okay”.

Have we forgotten to be understanding?
To be understanding infers that you can relate in some way to what is being presented to you. When it comes to understanding other people and what their experiences have been, finding the common point of being able to relate is at times difficult. I remind myself that understanding does not mean that I have to agree with what I perceive, it (simply) requires that I open my perspective to include more realities.

Although experiences are different, there are broader categories of experience that we as humans (our point of common ground) have encountered. Loss, takes many forms from that of possessions to companions to freedoms and basic rights. Fear presents in self-doubt to feelings of safety and security to your place within community and society. Acceptance challenges our perceptions of who we are through eh eyes of ourself-relationships-community and in the world. So, to return to what I stated earlier..To be understanding infers that you can relate in some way to what is being presented to you… We are able to relate in some way at some level to everyone. And, perhaps in finding this common ground, allow kindness to arise.

Have we forgotten compassion?
Kindness and understanding pave the way for the gift of compassion. There is a reciprocity in compassion that informs and infuses both the gifter and the receiver in a subtle dialogue of recognition that you and I are one in the same. Before conditioning and nature vs. nurture and even birth, we, as potential streams of humanity,shared the same potentials of developing kindness and understanding. And, although the road back to this state of being may be laden with challenges that seem insurmountable, patience, time and self-kindness and understanding lay the stepping stones of this journey.

I have come to realize that there are nuances to everything and this is especially true of compassion. It is easiest for me to feel compassion for those I love and value. It is easy for me to feel compassion for those I see as being marginalized and mistreated. It is relatively easy for me to feel compassion for the stranger who creates their own repetitive cycle of drama.

But can I be compassionate towards those I dislike, distrust and feel no positive emotion for? Can I feel compassion for those who are doling out the separatism and mistreatment? Can I feel compassion for those who manipulate and suck the joy and life from those around them? And, do they deserve my compassion, kindness or understanding?

I struggle with these questions and even more so with the answers that arise. I would like to think that as part of humanity, the answer would be a resounding “yes” to acknowledging compassion, kindness or understanding to all other beings. The truth is that also because I am human, on any given day that answer will be a reflection of my own level of security, confidence and perceptions of that day.

I also believe that there are no right or wrong answers to these questions. The important point being that the self-awareness generated by questioning where compassion settles into who you are begins the process of seeing yourself as part of a greater whole. Set the intention of being mindful of where and how kindness and understanding flow organically into compassion and then….

COM(e) PASS I(t) ON

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