This above all; to thine own self be true,
And it must follow,as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
- William Shakespeare
Everyday reports in the newspaper of barbaric killings by ISIS, Boko Haram and other terror organizations have jarred our sensibilities by the sheer intensity of their violence.And every time, I am plagued by the apparent ease with which a human being is able to transgress into such perversions. Are political,religious or economic inducements sufficient to bring out this horrendous aspect in a man? More often than not, I could only view them as maniacal and in the process, classify them as sub-human. Until I realized that this was perhaps the same emotion which controlled them too.
History has been replete with instances where human beings have descended to such barbaric acts that humanity can only shiver in its grave. It is the process wherein a human dehumanizes the other so completely that no conceivable relation to the other can then be established.This formed the basis for nearly all the genocides in the world.
An ability to establish oneness and connection with another, forms the basis of compassion. Compassion – the singular emotion which is direly needed in today’s world.Different religions espouse this central thought in their philosophies. Keeping aside the inherent mis-interpretations that each religion has given rise to, compassion is a salve for humanism – where being ‘human’ is far more critical than being religious.Compassion encompasses empathy along with action.It differs from altruism where emotional attachment is not mandated and neither is it comparable to empathy, where despite the emotional involvement, it needn’t translate into action.Nonetheless, rather than splitting hair on these variations, any proclivity towards altruism or empathy is only to be appreciated and viewed as a stepping stone to attaining true compassion.
The ability to be compassionate can be intrinsic to an individual,but interestingly, it can also be consciously developed.In this age of bloodshed, the ability to be compassionate to oneself and to others is the one gift we can give ourselves and our children.
Haile Selassie says “It is much easier to show compassion to animals. They are never wicked.” Everybody’s latitude for compassion would vary and so would it also be undeniably linked, to the object of compassion.But even that residual innate quality would succumb to the everyday onslaught of inconsideration that we show, not because we deliberately intend to but because many a times,we even forget to spare a thought to the existence of an alternate way.
So prior to become ‘compassionate’, lies the state of being ‘considerate’. Its akin to learning A ahead of Z.
Are we considerate with ourselves ? – When we constantly disparage ourselves on our looks, our achievements and our capabilities. When we are overly harsh with ourselves for not living up to our standards, when we take our achievements for granted and our failures as our scars.
Are we considerate at home ? With our family ? – While demanding and taking our family for granted. When we place undue burden on our children as we try to mold them in our cast. When we fail to appreciate a spouse as a person who could have independent needs and desires.
Are we considerate at work ? With our colleagues ? - When our demands are unfair. When we absolve ourselves for our failures and steal someone’s limelight.When our subordinates become ‘resources’ in the true sense of the word.
Are we considerate towards the place where we live ? – When we unabashedly litter our surroundings because it’s not ‘my’ headache.When we play loud music in the dead of night.
Are we considerate on the road ? – When we constantly get overcome with road rage.When we don’t abide by any traffic rules.When we forget that the five minutes we save on traffic is not a life-changing deal.
Are we considerate towards people ? – When we encounter people with differing views, different religious practices, different sexual orientations. When we sit on judgement on every differing view.
It is said that to practice tolerance one needs to put oneself in another person’s shoes.It’s facile to ridicule another based on their beliefs and value systems, but it’s much harder to introspect and understand the context. This is not to condone unlawful or antisocial behavior, but simply to acknowledge those, that are different to ours. Social transformations are not ushered by people who are judgmental, instead it is by people who are compassionate and yet,steadfast about their causes.
Our children will become who you are.So be, who you want them to be. – Anonymous
In being who we are, we determine our future generation.The answer to the question of whether humanity will survive the onslaught of intolerance and hatred, lies with us.We can choose how we wish to answer it.
This post is written for ‘1000 Voices of Compassion’ where 1000 bloggers from across the world decided to lend their voices for Peace and Compassion on Feb 20th.