These are troubling times. Each week, it seems, and several times last week, there was news of another violent act with tragic consequences. Time and time again in conversations and on social media, I hear/see the same question repeated:
“How do we fix this?”
There is an answer. It is not complex, but it is hard and we would each need to choose it and then keep choosing it over and over again every minute of every day until we begin to chip away at the ugliness that seems to be gripping society.
It’s as simple as a single word: Compassion.
It might seem overly simplistic. Can one little word turn around a world hanging on the brink of chaos?
Yes. Compassion is not just a word; it is an action. It is a spark of inner transformation. And in world gripped by rage, vitriol, and violence, it is an act of revolution.
Compassion is the sensing of another’s suffering combined with an urge to relieve it. You have to grow your sense of compassion to the point that you want to cure the suffering of others so badly that you could not possibly cause another person suffering.
If we are ever going to stop seeing one another as “the other” then we need to begin to accept the suffering of one another as our own. You need to know deep down in your gut that when you hurt someone else you hurt yourself.
Where does compassion start? With empathy.
A society lacking empathy is destined to be ripped apart at the seams. Every little difference that divides us will tear at the fabric of our peace. We see that division and tearing happening now all round us. We sense it occurring as we distance ourselves from people who see the world differently than we do. This must change.
We must put ourselves into the place of others and try to imagine how we would feel in their position. The more we can see others as being like us, the greater empathy we will feel with them. The greater our empathy, the greater our compassion.
Can compassion stop a violent act? Yes.
It can prevent a person from ever becoming violent in the first place. We need to appeal to one another’s humanity. We need to give compassion openly and freely and be willing to receive it.
But it has to start from within. That’s the catch. We each need to choose compassion. Still, there are ways to help others feel compassion and be moved to choose it, and that is by seeing acts of compassion performed. The more compassionate acts we perform the more likely we are to evoke compassion in one another. Compassion breeds compassion.
So, my appeal to you is this: Choose compassion.
Choose compassion and keep choosing it every day, in every way, in every situation you encounter. And with time, we will turn the tide. We can end the violence. We can change hearts and minds.
We can fix this broken world.