Compassion: A Dying Art

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." ~ Dalai Lama

I saw the most disturbing thing at the park last week. A little boy, about 3 years old, was running on the cement surrounding the playground and fell. Hard. He toppled forward on to his knees, and scraped his nose and chin as his face hit the ground. My 'mother's instinct' caused me to run to him. I picked him up off the ground, asked him if he was okay and gently checked his scraped knees and face. He, naturally, called out for his mommy.

His mother sat on the bench looking angrily at him and said, "I have no sympathy for you. I've told you a million times before not to run, so it's your own fault." She did not move to assist him, and when he ran over to her crying she pushed him aside and said, "You're fine. No, don't come to me. I've told you before not to run. I have no sympathy for you. Go on."

My heart broke for him as he sat there crying and hurt. I tightened my jaw so as not to give the mother a piece of my mind, and gave the little boy a sympathetic glance. I wanted so badly to run to him and hug him, but in today's age you just can't do that... Internally I yelled at the mother, "Where is your compassion?!?!"

Where has compassion gone?

The mother was angry because she had "told him a million times" it would happen. She failed to realize however that this little man only has 3 years of life experience compared to her 30. We can tell them these things will happen, but little minds don't quite get it until it does. And when it does happen, it's fine I suppose to say "... I told you so...", but temper it with compassion.

Where was the harm in that mother putting aside her anger to console her injured son and say, "It's okay... I know it hurts. That's what I was trying to tell you when I told you not to run." The lesson of falling is hard enough on a child, but to not receive the comfort and compassion he needs from his mother ... That is truly heart breaking.

Compassion seems to have almost completely disappeared from our society today. Take for example the newspapers and tabloid media who run stories of stars who have fallen from grace in one way or another. They yelled at their child, drove drunk or cut off all their hair, to give a few recent examples. The backlash these stars receive from the public can be so cutting and cruel.

"I have no sympathy for them. They knew what they were getting into when they chose stardom!" Or, "What a pathetic loser. She brought this all on herself." While there may be truth in the fact that they "knew what they were getting into", why not have just a little sympathy or empathy for them? After all, they are human and humans are fallible.

People seem to forget that regardless of who they 'are', what choices they have made and will make in the future, first and foremost these people are human beings. They live, breath and bleed the same colour blood that we all do. They are deserving of our compassion if for no other reason than that. Open your heart, put yourself in their shoes for one moment and ask yourself: wouldn't you hope if you were in the same situation, that people would accept you for who you are? A person with faults?

(It's a fact! We are not perfect! I hope that statement doesn't shock anyone. If it does, it's time to do a little more soul searching!)

It shocks me how many people would (and will) continue to stick their noses in the air and scoff at the idea. "Compassion?? Bah, humbug! Not me." They will hold firm that in no way does a person who "brings something on them self" - whether it be a Hollywood star or child who falls on the playground - deserve their compassion. And therein, I believe, lies the root problem in our society today. It's a case of every man for himself. Survival of the fittest! Eat or be eaten. "...and I'm not going to feel a thing for you when you become some one's lunch." It's sad, and frightening.

We need to change it. You need to change it. The next time you see somebody pan handling for money, don't walk by and say, "What a bum... get lost". Show some compassion. Drop a dollar in their hat.

The next time someone does something that results in them getting injured, don't just say, "It's your own fault!". Show some compassion. Ask them if they are okay.

The next time a big story runs in the news about a star who has made a "mistake" don't say, "He brought it on himself!". You've got it ... show some compassion. Don't judge them too harshly just because of "who they are". Understand that despite fame, 'stars' are no different than you or I.

It all comes down to realizing that despite our differing beliefs, physical exteriors and life experiences, we are all human beings. And one thing that humans cannot survive without is compassion.

Compassion, you've got it in you to give!


"All human beings come from a mother's womb. We are all the same part of one human family. We should have a clear realization of the oneness of all humanity." ~ Dalai Lama

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