Thursday, February 19, 2015

Compassion: More Than A Feeling

Feeling compassion is easy. We all feel sympathy or concern for the misfortunes of others at one time or another. We see these stories every day on the news, and as humans, it's impossible NOT to feel badly for these victims. We can do it while we're sitting comfortably in our homes. But being compassionate? That takes a lot more effort. 

Compassion exemplified would be Kayla Mueller, the 26 year old from Arizona who had devoted her young life to helping others. She cared deeply about helping relieve suffering of people who could not help themselves. She volunteered for an organization working to save Darfur while in college, worked with the homeless in Arizona, then on to give humanitarian aid in India, Israel and, finally, in Syria, where she helped families displaced by civil war, then was kidnapped, held hostage and then, sadly, died at the hands of terrorists.

Kayla Mueller practiced a level of compassion that few ever will. Does that make the rest of us less compassionate?

I say no.

The world needs Kayla Muellers, but not everyone is meant to BE a Kayla Mueller. I say we have to seek our own level of compassion. 

My friend Deena is compassionate about animals, particularly cats. She lives in Fresno and works in an area with a large feral cat population. She sets traps for the ferals, gets them neutered, takes them home to recuperate, then works to socialize them and find them homes, funding all of it herself. Yes, there is still a large population of ferals, but there are less than there were, because Deena has made a difference. Little by little, she is slowing the population growth of the colony. She takes in mama cats and their litters, rejoices for them when she finds them a forever home, weeps over them when they are ill and pass away. 

That's compassion.

We can't all be Deenas, either. But some of us can be like Thomas. He is a volunteer for the American Red Cross and has been for years. The mission of the Red Cross itself is that it exists to provide compassionate care to those in need. Thomas does that. As a trained volunteer, he responds to disasters, from tornadoes to ice storms to house fires. (By the way, did you know the Red Cross responds to every house fire and provides emergency assistance for food, clothing and shelter?) He helps at the office and with special events. He shares his time and talents tirelessly.

That's compassion.

And you know what else is compassion? It's buying some extra canned goods at the grocery store (the good brands, not the generic stuff)  and donating them to the local food bank. It's volunteering at your child's school. It's taking in foster puppies for the local humane society, even if you wondered what you'd gotten yourself into at the time. It's baking hundreds of cookies for a show choir camp snack rather than picking up store-bought cookies from Walmart. It's holding a door open for the next person, even if you have to stand there awkwardly because your timing was off. It's making eye contact and smiling as you're walking through the mall, just to make people smile back.

It's seeing a need and fulfilling it. 

That's a level of compassion we can all be.  



A little seed of an idea was planted earlier this year by Yvonne Spence. She and Lizzi Rogers watered it, and it grew into 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion. Look for #1000Speak on Twitter.











30 comments:

  1. Beautiful and agreed! Everyone can given of themselves and be compassionate in the way that works best for them and still makes a difference. - Louise

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  2. I love this. When I think of acts of compassion that I have received, many of those acts are "little things," but they made a big impression on me. If I remember small things, maybe the small things I offer count in someone else's life, too.

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    1. I think small things are pretty awesome. It makes me so happy when someone gives me a cart at Aldi and won't accept a quarter in return!

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  3. So true... Not everyone can do as much as Kayla...But we all can so something atleast..It's not about how much but what we need to do!

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  4. Nice meme. :)

    If I remember the "little things" people have done for me, it's fair to say others will remember what I do.
    Of course, it works both ways. If I'm not compassionate, that will be remembered, too. I certainly don't want to be remembered for that!

    Well done!

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    1. Emma just told me that is NOT a meme. Pffft.
      Little things mean a lot.... :)

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  5. Wonderful! It is the little things. We can make tiny acts pile up like mountains.

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  6. This is perfect.
    PERFECT.
    I love that everyone has their own level, that is the key. So many people think they don't have enough money to donate, or time to volunteer, and every LITTLE bit really adds up! Mine is about even less than these wonderful people, just considering another's person's situation.
    This is great. Sharing!

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    1. Thank you, Joy! Something for every comfort level.
      I loved your post. Spot on!

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  7. You nailed it Dyanne!
    Got me wanting to use the L word:)

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  8. It is so simple and clear - no nonsense post on what compassion is ! I wish I could cut short my thoughts and present what actually is needed like this :)
    enjoyed reading it dear Dyanne

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    1. Thank you, Afshan! You are such a delightful person!

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  9. Absolutely right !

    It's seeing a need and fulfilling it.

    That's a level of compassion we can all be.

    all it takes is on act of kindness - and it could as simple as a smile... an acknowledgement at any level.
    :)

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    1. A smile from a stranger could be just what someone needs. Who am I to deny that? :)

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  10. Beautiful words. We ALL can do compassion, at a level which works for us. You're right in saying we shouldn't feel bad for not being able to achieve someone else's level.

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    1. Thanks, Lizzi! I'm in awe of people like Kayla Mueller who devote their lives to service like that. That's not my level of comfort, however, so it's nice that compassion comes in all shapes and sizes.

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  11. Oh so true! I love your different examples of compassionate acts, and recognition that our lives allow us to act in different ways. The important thing is to do what we CAN.

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    1. Sometimes the smallest act is enormous to the one on the receiving end.

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  12. I LOVE that you draw the parallel here that it's all compassionate - large or small, grand or simple. Not everyone is able to do the grand gestures for whatever reason limits them. But there is always something and every little something makes a difference to someone.

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    1. I had no idea what I was going to write about until I sat down at the computer and started typing. I'm glad you liked it!

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  13. Loved this! I agree that compassion doesn't have to be a huge act. The smallest kindness can mean so much to a person. Even a kind word. In my lifetime, I cannot tell you how many times someone has said something to me that was just the right thing at just the right time and made all the difference. It doesn't matter how you go about it...just do it.

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    1. Thanks, Sandy! I hope people realize that their small gestures are just as important as big ones.

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  14. This was a lovely post. I'm glad you pointed out that it's not just the grand gestures that count, but also the small ones. In the end, I think all that matters is being a good person with a big heart. Some of my most touching memories of both strangers and loved ones are the small acts of kindness.

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    1. Thank you so much! When someone just gives me their cart at Aldi and won't accept the quarter, it makes my day!

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  15. I knew I read this already...but I'm glad I came back because now I have "More than a Feeling" in my head and will probably spend today listening to Boston. Yay.

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    1. Glad I could be of service! Too bad I didn't call it "All About That Bass". Oops! Hush my mouth! You're going to be singing THAT now :)

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