People naturally have compassion when they are born, but we are hardened by life circumstances and we tend to lose touch with this attribute. Usually we don’t even realize it. I use the word, “attribute”, because sadly, that is exactly what it is in our world now.
I was discussing a life situation with a friend not too long ago, and the phrase, “lack of compassion” came up. I had never stopped to really think about that before. It enlightened me to understanding a long term, hurtful situation in a very different way. It opened my eyes to something I thought was a total loss because that person had been so hardened by life circumstances that their behavior mirrored only what they had grown accustomed to. That’s where the issue lies- that person doesn’t even realize they projected such a lack of compassion toward me, that it did grave damage. I walked away saddened, knowing full well that it would take some realization of the problem on the other person’s part to repair the circumstances. To me, that feels like a dead end and it sucks so much of my energy that it seems not worth my time.
People’s lack of compassion trickles down to affect others who end up paying the price for that sort of behavior. We are all guilty of it. People who are annoyed by something turn around with varying degrees of angst and sometimes lash out at the next person they encounter, or they seem “selfish”, in another’s view.
People are kind in general, but we are toughened by what goes on in the world around us every day. I know this to be true as I age. The fast paced lives we choose to live are to blame for this. I don’t like to use the words, “stressed out” to describe myself, because I know that everything we do is a choice and that phrase has become cliche’. We choose to put ourselves in those situations or make choices in our lives that breed lack of compassion without thinking ahead. It’s become some people’s first nature to get angry with someone rather than be patient or to try a different approach. Projected anger has become more commonplace, though it is less than acceptable behavior.
Look again at the example, of what’s going on in the airline industry today. When I was growing up, my father worked for a large commercial airline and we dressed nicely when we flew. Nobody on the plane was in any unacceptable attire that I can remember. Today I see adults in pajamas that look like they haven’t brushed their hair in 3 days and they are boarding a flight with men in business suits. Why is that now acceptable in society and why aren’t those people compassionate enough toward themselves to feel worthy of putting on a decent pair of pants for the day? Since when is it acceptable to punch someone for sitting in your seat? These are intolerant (and righteous) actions, and there are kids watching their every move and absorbing it all. Those people have no compassion in trying to work a situation out or being kind to themselves or another. People are seeing it done and so they do it too.
I usually try to see the true reason behind that type of behavior. Maybe they are having a really hard time with something else. I don’t know what is going on in that person’s world and their life may be so out of whack and unbalanced that they aren’t able to grasp their compassion. It’s a good philosophy, I suppose. We all search for the good because it seems there is less and less of it.
So, next time someone cuts me off the road, I will try my best to be more compassionate. Rather than my occasional flipping-of-the-bird when I pass them, I’ll try to remember to flip them a Peace sign instead.
Do you think you are Compassionate?