Compassion in the 21st Century Society
Things have gone array in our lives, because of lack of compassion in the life of our loved ones. This particular act is one of the means to get our planet back to some human form. The quest for greed, evil competition, thirst for blood, no love or affection for the pains of others has done more harm than good in our societies. We continue to disintegrate into differents parts instead of integrating to build a stronger force in our societies.
I remember having a discussion with a friend on this particular topic some months ago. I said to her, if people could learn to be more compassionate, if husbands and wives, whites, blacks and coloured people, brother and sisters, ethnic groups could be more compassionate to one another, the rate of domestic violence or any type of violence, divorce, breakups, violent conflicts, wars, will be reduced, life will be happier to live in.
Compassion is not something you pretend to have, to act or toy with, it is a lifestyle. It cannot thrive in a hostile environment, there cannot be compassion and evil in the same place, both cannot live side by side. True compassion is about love, it’s about showing affection and giving attention to people who need it; family, friends, children, loved ones, animals (pets), strangers, old people, mentally disturbed, street children, beggars, sick people, the rich and even the poor. You must love genuinely to exercise this act.
Compassionate people are socially connected, although they deal with their feelings, but they are still careful with how they use it. Like you don’t have to be a fool or act foolishly because you want to be compassionate, it goes with some sense in its application. Everyone can show compassion irrespective of social class, the rich, the poor, the middle class, the tout on the street, the student in the classroom, the lecturer and his relationship with his students, parents, and their children, etc. It is about giving back to others which do not have to be in cash but mainly in kindness even in the smallest ways. One thing is that compassion is good for your heart, it gives this calming effect to the giver and also to the receiver.
The different attitudes of Compassionate people:
- Listen first; they are good listeners and are not quick to judge. They listen attentively in other to know what ways they could share or relieve some pain from an individual.
- They bear the burden of others together. They feel the pain, regret, disappointment, success with the people they are dealing with.
- They give love, quick to forgive, and exercise positive energy in all their dealings.
The Making of A Compassionate Individual
It is what you have that you give, so it starts within you first. It is what you give yourself, that you can give others. You cannot work against yourself or inner intuition. It requires that you love yourself to know what is good for you and your wellbeing, to know what is good for your health, understand your relationship with yourself and others. A bad knife cannot sharpen another. Self-compassion is important, you are what you give or are. Jen Groover notes that “True compassion exists when you give your strength, guidance, and wisdom to empower another so that you can see who you really are and live in a greater capacity and expect nothing in return.” To have empathy, you need to nurture it especially if you have lost it because it is“an evolved part of human nature, rooted in our brain and biology,” says Deepak Chopra, M.D, a known author and founder of integrative medicine, and that is what differentiates us from other animals. We know that life is tough and hits back on us, but we shouldn’t let this human feature in us diminish or die. Learn to practice compassion, cultivate the habit of exercising the act, practice makes perfect. It is not a give me, I give you thing, it is what you give wholeheartedly and a selfless act. Constant meditation encourages greater compassion in us. Practice it, you will see the effect it will have on you. Practice meditation in your quiet times, when you are on the bus, when you less busy while walking on the street. And in the night reflect on the activities you did to others and think of more ways you could do better, gradually you will see the compassionate side of you, you will realize your real self.
Reflect on these steps below from Ode Magazine:
— Step 1: “Just like me, this person is seeking happiness in his/her life.”
— Step 2: “Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in his/her life.”
— Step 3: “Just like me, this person has known sadness, loneliness, and despair.”
— Step 4: “Just like me, this person is seeking to fill his/her needs.”
— Step 5: “Just like me, this person is learning about life.”
Be mindful that there is a difference between kindness and compassion. One may show kindness and not compassionate to others. Be mindful that kindness is not compassion but an attribute of compassion. That someone is kind doesn’t make them compassionate people. It is important to realize the difference between the two. You show kindness, but for compassion, you act it out. You act compassion through showing kindness. You can think about that. I hope I didn’t confuse you.
Compassionate people don’t brag about it neither do they favor one group against another. They give equally, the love, attention, care, support, encouragement, etc. Again, do not confuse sympathy with empathy, totally two different concepts.
Compassion cannot thrive in a chaotic atmosphere neither can it where there are racial tension, discrimination, inequalities, maltreatment or disrespect and vice versa. As the world is getting meaner and more dangerous every day, we have to remind ourselves the role we have played to this cause. Our activities as humans is causing the social and environmental vices, our greed, our want for more money (which is okay, if you work hard for it), expensive accessories and properties, excess luxurious products which some countries are helping us to maintain is telling on the planet causing climate change, global warming, natural disasters, weather changes, health problems like respiratory diseases caused by air pollution and cancer caused by eating habits, GMO foods and greed.
“When we have feelings of caring or love for other people, we feel better, We all think we want to be loved, but what actually feels good to us is feeling loving — and part of what makes us feel more love for other people is doing kind, compassionate things for them” clinical psychologist Lisa Firestone, Ph.D. Many research has shown that compassion promotes mental and physical health, lowering the risk of heart disease and reducing stress.
Everyone is going to one thing or the other. Smile when you meet people, that is a form of compassion, there are different types of smile, the genuine ones that flow deeply to your systems. Share that smile with others, it may bring some relief for them at that moment and that way, you have fulfilled a purpose; to help others.
Teaching children to be compassionate
Children are lovely gifts to their parents and the society. It’s important to nurture them to be good citizens who have dignity, respect and most especially compassion for others. Children learn from what they see and not from what they are told. Children have emotions which they could express in different ways. It is the duty of parents to raise compassionate children. Recent studies continue to show the effect of violence and wrong parental attitudes and behavior have on children’s mental, social and physical development in life. Teach them and show them examples by what you do. Treat, communicate, love, share, cuddle, read, play with them with compassion in your heart and soul. Do not let them be exposed to negative situations and when they are exposed, talk with them about it. Shutting them down is not empathetic rather authoritarian which can lead to behavioral disaster. They could show signs of bullying, misconducts, fights etc.
In conclusion, Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot), “what do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?” The world needs more compassionate people to bring man back to sanity, to promote sustainable living and practices, to heal and to love. With the daily rise of violence, terror, chaos, war, racism, and nationalism, may we remind humanity that the reason of our existence rests on compassion?
Written for Victor Ibeh Lifestyle Varsity