This word is often heard and sometimes practiced. Practiced with family and close friends, with animals and sick people. Compassion is sometimes a closed event. We keep it close to home, where we know or understand the challenges one is facing, we empathize with them and support them when possible. We provide them what they need to overcome their circumstances, because we are compassionate and loving.
But why does the compassion dry up when the misfortunes or suffering of others is outside our inner circles. Does not the thief who stole money need to feed his family, the driver who, out of sadness,drinks alcohol, or the kid, who is angry, defacing public property with graffiti deserve empathy and support too?
Our society uses punishment in response to these actions. “They must pay” for their behavior. Using negative actions against negative behaviors does not benefit anyone. The thief is given a short term prison sentence; his family goes hungry and he has a record that follows him forever. The drinking driver loses his license and is shunned by society. The kid is given community time and then becomes more angry because he was penalized for his feelings. How do these individuals break the cycle they find themselves in?
What if we treated all people, who can be rehabilitated, the way we treat family and friends in our inner circle? What if we responded with compassion and gave what these individuals needed rather than gave a punishment?
Provide the thief the opportunity to make money and build self respect and self esteem, provide the driver the opportunity for rehabilitation, and provide the kid with the support and tools needed to face his emotional challenges.
Small changes in perspective and how we treat one another can potentially lead to big changes.
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