The Call for Compassion
America is hurting.
The mass murder of her people in Las Vegas. (Our heads are still spinning from this one.) The destruction of her mountains throughout a lengthy firestorm summer. The devastating flooding of her coastal towns and homes swept away in back-to-back hurricanes. And this suffering parallels several months of venomous, political mudslinging and cruelty between her (America's) brothers and sisters - her citizens.
The reality is that so much of what we see in the news - whether local or national - is a speck on the tip of the iceberg of struggles, grief, burdens, heartache, pain and suffering in human life. Each one of us has a proverbial injury which we hope might be healed. Most of us have multiple wounds that others simply do not see. Yet, each day we feel them and hope just one person might understand.
We want families members and coworkers to be patient with our sharp tongues and careless actions. We want forgiveness when we purposefully choose to emotionally or physically harm a loved one or stranger. We want mercy when we can't deliver on our promises. We want an escape when we've backed ourselves into a corner.
Yet, do we offer patience, forgiveness, mercy and an escape to others? Do we practice compassion - when each day we are yearning for it ourselves?
Merriam Webster's Dictionary defines COMPASSION as "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." Read that again and let it sink in.
Compassion means we recognize others' distress, we sympathize or share in their suffering, and then we desire to help ease their suffering. Can you imagine if this principle were practiced every day by each of us? At home, at work, with friends, on social media, in our community interactions?
Approximately one month ago, careless teenagers reportedly ignited fireworks during a burn ban in the beautiful Columbia Gorge of Oregon, igniting an explosive fire that has been burned almost 50,000 acres of pristine mountain terrain in the Pacific Northwest and is still not contained (at the time of writing this article). During the first few days of witnessing the rapid destruction of prized forest, many local (Oregon & Washington) citizens viciously attacked (verbal and written) the reported teenage perpetrators, so much so that officials chose not to release names because of the outcry and potential threats. Amid the spiteful comments toward these teens, I found an inspiring social media post shared by a respected colleague which reminded me - and hopefully many others - to pause and remember: "Let none of us be judged by our worst moments and biggest mistakes, especially those of our teenage years. May we all find a small shelter for compassion in our broken, angry, mournful hearts. Amen."
What would our country become if you and I intentionally practiced finding "a small shelter for compassion" every day?
Even in spite of natural disasters, economic hardships and world threats - America would heal - because her people would heal.
So, pause today. Recognize that your neighbor and your coworker and the guy who cut you off in traffic and the lady who disagreed with your comment on social media are in need of compassion. They hurt and suffer, too. Find a way to be kind, to offer support, to show concern or to simply acknowledge their worth as a human soul.
Compassion is what America needs. Compassion is what we all need. And most importantly, compassion is what we all need to give.
Shine On. -Kimberly
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