…. that is the question.
I find those who have lived a relatively trouble free life, where they haven’t had any major run ins with the law, never had to deal with a significant death in their lives where they feel hopeless without that person being there for them, or deal with the on-going civil battles of divorce or domestic violence, never had their freedom taken off them, or been traumatised by a natural disaster, never had death knocking on their door with a serious illness, or the trauma of a car accident, these people rarely have the compassion for those who reach out for help.
OK… so it might be a generalisation, but I’ve been noticing a small group of people who announce that they literally don’t want to know your problems, sagas or woes… they want to rid negativity out of their lives, so anyone who mentions that they are depressed, suicidal, destitute or struggling in their lives in any way, they are not the people who want to know.
And it’s sad, because human emotions, human tragedy and human desire are all the things that bring love into this world. It’s the compassion people have for those less fortunate that makes this world a better place. And I will admit and now am very ashamed to say, that it wasn’t that long ago, that I too used to think that if there was an earthquake in the middle of India that killed tens of thousands of people, I used to say that it was God’s way of de-populating the world, or it was those people living in that area who had a choice to move away from their over-populated slums and find a better place to call home, but they didn’t, so it was their fault that they died… but since I’ve travelled and seen what the world has to offer, spent time in third world villages, poor first world towns, and seen how they survive with what they have, sometimes you just wish you could join them in their simplicity and their family love because what they have is so beautiful.
My growth of realising my stupid thoughts has come through many life changing events. Seeing the good from giving to those who need – and giving could be giving money, giving time, giving an ear who listens or just giving a shoulder to cry, but also by not being blinkered by what’s going on behind closed doors, and seeing despair in people’s faces, seeing unwarranted bravery within their face or simply that they are frightened… But also seeing how much giving can be appreciated by those who are desperately in need. When living in St Kilda, we saw the sadness of the homeless going to the shelter for food every day, the smile of a beggar when you gave him a warm drink on a cold day, the spirit of the charity workers and how their warmth made the days of those less fortunate more bearable, something to look forward to. And yes, they are all strangers, but they all have hearts, they all feel hurt and they all need love. And if the smallest amount of compassion can come from inside your heart, in the shape of a knowing smile, a token coin, a warm blanket or an ear to listen to their stories, then you have touched someone’s life.
And that’s what I find is the best thing about just being there for other people, is their amazing stories. If you listen to the tales of their lives, find out how they come to be in the position that they are in, if its material wealth, homeless poverty, the village life or just a regular life, their lives are all intriguing. They all have a unique story to tell, and most even know how to laugh at themselves through their hard times. But you would never know, unless you showed some compassion to their cause, allowed them to open up to you and be a welcoming ear.
We do tend to judge the world upon our own standards… expecting that the rest of the world wants to live the same life as our own, or aim to be better by having more materialistic things, having more powerful jobs or having more choice by making more money. But most of that really doesn’t matter, unless you have someone to love, and people around you who care. So I’m all for listening to people’s happy stories, sad stories, complicated stories, tragic stories and stories that feel stuck because people find they have no meaning in their lives.
So to say that you only want to have a life that’s filled with people with positive thoughts, materialistic goals and not show any care for those less fortunate or going through a personal crisis, to me, it’s pure ignorance… we need balance in our lives, and balance comes from understanding ourselves and others, and not pigeon holing a small group of ‘others’ into the ‘I’m not speaking to that person because they have issues’ box. But when the ignorant do go through their own personal crisis or find themselves in a poverty stricken hole of debt that they just can’t get out of, where will the compassionate, caring people who they left behind be… not by their side, will they?
It all goes back to the proverb, ‘do to others as you’d want done to yourself.’ Compassion is what makes this world go round, not ignorance…