Today is a special day. Over one thousand bloggers all over the world are raising their voices in chorus on the subject of compassion, under the label #1000Speak. They hope to inspire readers to think about it, to delve into its many facets, to ponder its meaning and makeup… But, above all, to show it. To practise as well as preach.
Over the last month of build-up, I’ve been amazed reading the compassionate content that’s ensued since the idea seeded, meeting like-minded people brought together by this common cause – championing something good in this world that is sometimes so cruel.
Then, last week, I fell out the loop a little. I moved country, again. Found a temporary home, again. I picked up old threads and more than one G&T and tried not to crash and burn in the process of coming back to a place where circumstances used to be so different, trying to block all the punches that unwelcome changes can hail on your heart. I also had some fun.
I am not embarrassed to admit that I feel things deeply. And, while we often go around trying to present our best faces to the world, sometimes we can only survive by being brutally honest, with others and with ourselves. In the circles I’ve become a part of since I started my writerly journey to authordom (fame and fortune to follow), I’ve seen people bare their souls on screen more often than I can count, not least through #1000Speak, and it is a good thing. A powerful thing.
Think about the painful things that have happened to you. Everybody has them, to whatever degree. For better or worse, these experiences, along with the good, make us who we are.
Have you ever seen someone crying in the street? Have you averted your gaze, thinking they’d rather not be bothered? Have you pitied, or even scorned? Have you really seen them, this other person who has a life just as you have a life? And have you wondered what it is they’re going through that it would evoke such a public display of their sorrow? Have you wondered out of voyeurism or from the heart? Have you stopped, or just stared and walked on, caught up in your own problems?
Reaching out to someone may be rebuffed; it certainly may not help with the actual issue. But it may make that someone realise that things might just be okay.
Compassion is the moment a stranger holds you in the street while you cry and tells you everything is going to be all right. Just living in a world where a complete unknown would interrupt their natural absorption in their own life and the lives of their nearest and dearest to reach out an unsolicited but comforting hand makes me hopeful, despite all the horrible, ugly things that can happen around us.
Use your experience of pain to make you more sympathetic to others and what they might be going through, whether they show their heart on their sleeve or not. When the same treatment – empathy, kindness, comfort – is accorded to you, you realise how much it counts. Humankind has capacity for great evil, but it also has limitless capacity for compassion. Show some compassion in your everyday life: to yourself, to your friends, to your colleagues, to a stranger on the street. And everything will be all right.
In the run up to publishing this post, amongst the scores of compassionate content starting to hit the webs, I clicked on Dani’s story first because I caught sight of the title. Would you like to read the other side? Would you ever hug a total stranger and mean it?
It’s not too late to get involved.
To join the group and meet the movement, go here: 1000 Voices for Compassion Facebook Group
To sing and dance together on Twitter, tweet #1000Speak.
1 in a 1000 indeed. 😉 I love reading posts about good stuff. The world can be an ugly place, but that doesn’t mean we have to focus on that. If we can focus on the good maybe that’s what will spread? 🙂
I hope so 🙂 I really do!
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That’s an interesting way of thinking about compassion, Sara. I don’t actually know if I would hug a stranger… And the reason that comes to mind is, shyness. Fear. I’m not necessarily absorbed in my own problems, but I don’t trust myself to make a gesture like that to someone I don’t know. I guess in that instance, compassion requires bravery and a boat-load of self-trust.
I’m curious, though: Have you been hugged by a stranger before? Or have you hugged a stranger? I’m just wondering how you came up with that idea for the article.
I do remember a few times where I donated to funds for people’s medical expenses, though. One in particular stands out: There was a 6-month-old baby boy who was suffering from a very serious illness. A local newspaper ran an article about him and his family, and their efforts to save his life. I don’t remember his name or what his illness was, which is said because I wish I could… But I saw that adorable little face on the front page of the paper, and I knew I needed to help him. So I donated to his medical fund. This was several years ago (maybe even when I was in high school… more than 10 years ago??), and it’s not the same as hugging a stranger. But I know I did it because it felt like the right thing to do, to help save this little boy.
Mine should be up in a couple hours. I’ll be offline and asleep by then, but I’m going to promote it on the social media wavelengths once I’m up for the day. 😉
Sara! Thank you so much for reading and sharing!
It was me – a week ago, when I was in less than a jolly place. Funny timing hey what with all this going on – I knew inspiration for the post would strike from somewhere! And it was unexpected and unsought for, but it just made me feel better – having someone with no reason to care for you show that they care. I hope that I can do the same for someone. It was crazy that just before I published, I read Dani’s post, linked at the bottom, about someone on the opposite side of it all.
That’s beautiful what you did for the wee baby – it doesn’t have to be a hug, just human gestures – big and small – sometimes remind us that this world is full of beautiful people who care.
Looking forward to your post!
I agree it’s never too late to get involved! not at all! All we need to do is look around and do how much ever we can
Random Thoughts Naba..Why No One Talks About Compassion Anymore?….
Yes, I think the great thing is that this whole thing isn’t going to stop at the 20th – this whole exercise has made me go into every day just more aware…
Hello! I just read Dani’s post (she’s a good friend of mine) and I was SO curious about the other side. Thank you so much for sharing and what a wonderful coincidence that you saw her piece before you published yours. 🙂
I know, what are the chances?! I’m so glad I found Dani’s post… Thanks for coming over!
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In teaching my daughter about compassion and more in life, I always ask her to recall how she felt when someone hurt her, or when she was sad about something, etc. Calling upon our own experience to help us perceive how another might be feeling is crucial – it’s how we develop that empathetic spirit.
That’s lovely, and so true – I think it’s wonderful that you stress that to your daughter, so that she grows with that point of reference in mind.
Thanks for reminding me that there is beauty in the world, Sara.
Thank you Helena…
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