I Am Not the Poster Child for Compassion

Can I just say that it’s hard to have compassion sometimes?

Compassion is more than just feeling sorry for someone. There are two movements to compassion: shared sorrow and then shared action.

It’s defined as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”

Even if the action we take to alleviate suffering goes no further than prayer, sometimes it is really hard to have compassion. People get under our skin, rankle us, offend us, inconvenience us… And thus the compassion runs dry.

Perhaps my kind of compassion is circumstantial compassion: I’ll have compassion if I deem it appropriate, if you haven’t annoyed me too much, if I think you’re worth it.

Did I just say all of that?

Sometimes I think I’m a lost cause.

Of course the universal human problem is navel gazing, a kind of near-sighted view of the world where the only things that matter are right in front of me, close to me, and within my realm of concern. What a horribly crippling, useless way to live, but there you have it. I’m so focused on my needs, my feelings, my reactions that I forget people out there really need me to pray, to act, to care, to forget about myself for just…one…minute.

But I’m SO important!!!

And if that is my line of thinking, existence becomes hardly bearable. Misery swoops in like a cold pelting rain. Everything is perceived as an attack on my happiness and position, everything ruins MY life, and everything revolves around me to the point that death seems like the worst possible thing because I will be removed from this world that is so deeply invested in me.

Suddenly, compassion doesn’t sound so bad after all.