Of all the human qualities, compassion tends to take my breath away the most, in part because of the way in which it can transform the gravest of circumstances. Nowhere has this been more evident to me than with the recent flooding in Houston caused by Hurricane Harvey, and then the devastating destruction of Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean and Florida. And though I wish I didn’t have so many examples here, there was also the 7.1 earthquake in Mexico City and then Hurricane Maria which devastated Puerto Rico and other Caribbean Islands like Turks and Caicos. Suddenly, the world became a kinder place, a place where people from different countries around the world stepped up to support the individuals and governments where the destruction took place. We, the people, came together.
As I watched the news coverage of Mexico City I saw all these people working together to remove debris and help find any person who might have been buried in rubble. This is a sight I remember all too well when the Twin Towers fell on 9/11. Brave individuals thrown into chaos, and yet somehow mustering the strength to lend a hand, helping one another in the most trying of times.
We have a tendency to do that, us humans. We’re kind of kind at heart. We’re givers. We take care of one another when push comes to shove. It seems some part of us recognized our innate connectivity during times of severe trauma, or life and death situations. Even people we might judge as monsters become angels during these severe times.
Nowhere did I see this shift in caring more, this seemingly automatic move to compassion, than here in the U.S. with the flooding in Houston. Here we were, the United States, in a loud and all-consuming conversation on divisiveness, and a complete polarization of people across our country based on conservative and liberal identities, when out of the blue, ocean that is, the worst flooding Houston has seen in years came to shore. This devastation immediately shifted us out of this “right-wrong” paradigm of a conversation into a place of deep compassion for all our brothers and sisters. Bam! Compassion for the win! Oh, wait, compassion isn’t out to win, but simply to express an energy of caring to any person who might be in pain because of their current circumstance. And we all stepped up and gave a care.
I know for myself, I wanted to do something. I was a bit shocked at first, but thanks to Facebook there was a link to give to relief funding for the victims of the flooding in Houston. I gave, as did many of my friends here in Los Angeles. I could tell, as there was an option on Facebook that somehow showed you gave when you shared the charity link on your Facebook page. Again, any liberal-conservative thing flew out the window because we were giving around the country. Those of us in LA weren’t saying, “Oh, it’s Texas, they’re more conservative, let’s not give to them.” We reached down into our pockets, and however deep they may have been, we gave, because we care for one another.
That whole experience almost makes me hopeful that we’ll eventually ensure all our citizens here in the U.S. have some form of health care. Maybe there’s a way to line item it under the 790 billion dollar budget for defense spending? I don’t know why no one’s thought of that yet. I mean without our health we’re literally nothing. Can’t defend a country without good health. But back to compassion, because let’s face it, it’s a much better topic to write about as everybody wins where compassion is concerned.
Compassion as a quality holds tremendous power. Not power like a stick of dynamite, or power as in a semi-automatic weapon, but rather authentic power like Gandhi expressed when through peaceful protest he freed an entire country, or power like Nelson Mandela, who also freed a nation despite the racism and prejudice of his imprisoners through choosing a peaceful and compassionate activism which would eventually free, not only himself, but his country from apartheid. At the core of Gandhi and Mandela’s approach, and countless other examples throughout the world, where individuals who understood the inherent power of compassion.
Compassion, what is it good for? Absolutely everything. Yeah, I know that sounds like a lyric from a song some of you older folk might remember. I like my version better replacing war with compassion – it’s good for everything. Yes, everything.
Don’t believe me? Test it out. Be compassionate in the most challenging of situations. Practice compassion on yourself – you will feel a hell of a lot better afterward, I promise. And let’s be real here, the only way to get to Carnegie Hall is practice. It’s no different with compassion. You have to put this quality to use, breathe air into it, try it out, even on those individuals you think it impossible to shift your feelings towards – especially on them.
Let’s all go on a compassion adventure together, shall we? Oh, it’s not gonna be easy. No one ever said it would be, but I guarantee you it will be worth it. How you ask? Because compassion is the fastest way to the heart of pretty much any individual you might come in contact with or any tough situation, and you’ll leave a path of loving.
Birds will sing, rainbows will fill the sky, and smiles will be seen across the land. I’m not really exaggerating here. These and other wonderful things will occur when you express compassion. It will fill you and your heart, as well as the person’s heart receiving your loving, compassionate energy, and it can transform pretty much any challenging situation.
Compassion is a gesture that, like a rock in a pond, reverberates out into the world. Negativity sucks the life out of us, and God knows there’s an awful lot of it flying around right now. Compassion fuels our souls. My wish for all of us around this planet is to find the internal flame of compassion within ourselves and to share this with all those around us, regardless of what our mind judges the other person or people to be.
It’s a tall order, and one I know we’re built for as the recent hurricanes and earthquakes have proven to us. Compassion is at the heart of us all, and compassion is the one ingredient we find in the center of every storm which acts as a healing balm. It’s there as our gift of the heart and our seeds for healing. Shower life with your compassion, and watch the healing energy grow, erasing all devastation in its path. Ultimately, I believe compassion is the light of God. May loving compassion bless your life always, and in all ways. Now please excuse me, I’ve got a rainbow to catch.
Barry Alden Clark has coached thousands of individuals in connecting more deeply with their hearts, their life purpose, and helped create a pathway for these folks to move forward in a direction more aligned with who they truly are. He & his creative partner Eliza Swords are currently delivering uplifting content on social media every Wednesday via “Best Day Ever with Barry and Eliza”, a Facebook and You-Tube phenomenon reaching thousands of people around the world. They are also inspiring love and joy through creating heartfelt and entertaining content via their production company Pure Honey Ink. Currently they have projects in development for social media, film, television and publishing. You can reach Barry at www.barryaldenclark.com.
Image courtesy of Gerd Altmann.