There have been quite a few instances lately which have made me think about the decline of compassion. It has been fading for a while, and while there are still some shining examples of it out there, for the most part we seem to be becoming increasingly disconnected and self absorbed. Okay, I know that so far this might seem like I’m getting ready to go on a rant about what is wrong out there. Nope. Today I’m simply here to ask that people take some small steps toward compassion.
It seems that we are so attached to our electronics that we have lost the art of personal, face to face communication. I’m not being judgmental here, just stating the reality of our society. What would I ask you to do? From time to time, look up from your device and notice the people around you. Granted, many of them will be looking down at their own devices but I can almost guarantee you that you can find at least one person with whom to make eye contact and share a smile with.
We need to start noticing others around us. It doesn’t mean that we have to allow ourselves to be barraged by unpleasant energy or accosted by rude people. Just become more aware. Even if you don’t say a word, pay attention and try to acknowledge others with a smile, a nod, holding a door open for them…something. These small acts mean more than you think, both for the person you’ve performed it for and for yourself. Even the most introverted introvert needs a little human interaction from time to time and it has to start somewhere. Why not with us?
There has been a shift away from core values, and while I am glad to see some of them gone, there are others which I am sad to see sliding away. Lack of understanding, which goes along with compassion is also becoming so commonplace that it’s painful. We seem to have slid into this place of instant gratification, we want everything solved now. Some things aren’t able to be solved immediately, and instead of showing compassion, many are very quick to judge or say unkind things.
If someone is going through a bad spot romantically, just listen a little…give the person a hug…allow them to feel what they need to feel for a while. Don’t use this time as an opportunity to give the proverbial I told you so, or to point out what a jerk the lost love is. A person is hurting and that is what matters…not that you were right…not that you think that the person should just move on and not mourn the loss of the relationship.
Another one is illness. There are some conditions which are invisible to the naked eye, but create an entire world of challenges for the person going through it. Sometimes a person might be too ill to do much of anything for weeks on end…or longer. This type of isolation can really screw with a person’s psyche, and the last thing that the person needs to hear is someone discounting their illness and/or emotions. Most people cannot imagine what it would be like to be literally trapped for long periods of time with little contact with the outside world. Even someone who loves a lot of time alone would eventually start to feel adrift and needs compassion. This too is not the time to judge or to try to enact a quick fix. Just care. Call the person, or if the person isn’t feeling up to talking; send an email, card, or letter. Something to help them to know that they aren’t alone.
There are so many examples of situations which call for compassion. The point is, we seem to be losing our ability to be gentle with one another. No, I do not advocate allowing someone to wallow indefinitely. Nor do I subscribe to the theory that everyone needs to be treated like a star. All I’m asking is that we start to think about feelings again…and to begin to show a little sensitivity. I’m ready to renew my efforts to reclaim a little more of my humanity. Are you with me?