When I was a child, great acts of compassion happened far away, in unusual circumstances and often with people dedicating their lives to service. We did not consider a kind word, a hug, a plate of food, as GREAT acts of compassion because basically … most people would do that as a matter of routine. Our world was pretty gentle.
We had heroes. Our heroes had names that had been handed down throughout history as shining examples of human beings, Florence Nightingale, Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc . . . their acts changed the world.
We saw more people step up as time went on, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Ghandi … but still they were people we read about who lived lives in places we had never been.
We did not live in a world where every day we were confronted with people who were starving, homeless, sick, or abused. We did not see violence and victims everywhere. We were not people so absorbed in ourselves, in looking good, in feeling good, in consuming everything our credit cards would allow so that we could extend our 15 minutes of fame for another 30 seconds. None of us were trying to convince the world we were more important than the person sitting next to us.
Today we have people who look the other way, people who do not want to get involved. Today we have people who lift their noses at the unfortunate. Today we have privileged snot nosed kids getting news time as they talk about forced population control as a solution for saving the world meaning, “control THEM,” as they stand confident that THEY are just too special and precious to ever be on any list of “useless” people to be euthanized. Today we have people who kill one another for getting cut off in traffic. Today kindness and compassion seem so lacking that when someone takes the time to say “thank-you” we tweet it complete with pictures . . . and people get teary-eyed at such “kindness.”
Today a hero or a role model can be someone who has the opportunity to kill us and doesn’t.
Our standards have lowered. Our lights are dimmer. Our lives are less than they might have been.
We might think we are saving ourselves, protecting “us” from “them,” but when you take a light and hide it under a cover so that others might not benefit or steal from its illumination or warmth … that light does not survive. It eventually dies.
Humanity cannot survive within us unless we are willing to hold it high, to share it, to combine it with the light of others and to build a roaring bonfire that restores what once. We need the fire to show us the way, to encourage others to come and share . . . to consume the darkness that has taken over.
There were many imperfect things when I was growing up. There were things that needed to be fixed and changed and improved upon . . . but we cared about one another in a way that allowed for families and communities to have a chance.
I won’t surrender my compassion to the darkness or the ugliness that exists in the world today. I intend to continue to look for ways to do things for others, not so that I end up on the local evening news getting some award or so I can have a viral You Tube video. I will do it because it is the right thing to do. I am a better person for caring, and every act is one more tiny step towards healing this world. I will do it because in the end, people matter. I will do because life is measured in the opportunities we make and take to love and be loved.
My compassion is the only thing I will ever fight for because without it, I am not worth saving.