Compassion is the response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to
help. Seems simple, right? So many issues are plaguing us at a worldwide level, as a
nation and in our own backyard, including terror attacks, refugee crises and countless
humans not being able to get proper shelter or nutrition. You would think that people
would be working together to find solutions to help the oppressed, not become the
I recently have been working with a non-governmental organization (NGO) in the
northern region of India, helping produce a documentary specifically on mental health
and community awareness. In the west, we have an idea that you can just go to the
doctor, get a pink slip, pop some meds and we can just carry on—not dealing with
underlying issues. For must of us, as busy as we are this seems like a practical and
convenient solution to what plagues us; our problems, our time, our security and our
livelihood. That’s all fine if we are okay as humans just blocking out the suffering of
others, as long as it doesn’t hit home.
There are a number of things to consider when dealing with this topic including
human rights, human privilege and the vicious cycle that prevails when we just live life
with our heads down, liking and sharing a few trending posts, justifying in our heads that
we are actually doing something positive for the world. We have been able to isolate our
existence to a social media feed that most of the affected will never see, probably never
hear of nor are likely to actually care about. We have politicians at every level showing
the most gross level of bigotry and outright racist ideologies, and it seems as a nation and
as a community, we have just came to somehow except these are fine ways of thinking.
Close the borders, cut the social programs, privatize the care of health. In no way do I
think with a snap of the fingers we can have a solution to many of our problems, but
something has to give.
Most people who land in these situations have no say in the matter, but I imagine
if you are privileged enough to have the time to read this, you do have the capability to
act, to listen and to support. Help doesn’t have to cost anything, and if it does, as a
collective it really wouldn’t add up to much at a personal level. There are people we pass
by on the streets, near our homes, near our schools and by our hangouts who we ignore
on our daily paths. We have appointments, dinner dates, business meetings and a pleather
of other things that consume our daily schedule. Our service to each other gets lost in the
sauce, as one could say.
We saw it jokingly come around during the recent holiday season, we all had
choices to make regarding our plans, our intent and how we are going to carry ourselves
for those couple short months. Most likely you chose to go the commercial route, waiting
in line for a TV deal on Black Friday, or maybe not so extreme but tried to pick out
perfect, meaningless gifts for the few in our immediate circle because you know you had
to. I know most of what I thought I needed at some point, was unnecessary at best—
mostly overvalued and overrated. Enough with these mundane gestures, superficial,
maybe well intended at best.
I, myself am going to make a conscious effort to help lift up my fellow man
regardless if it’s the trending thing to do. No profile picture overlay, no hash-tags, just
real action with positive intent. Whether it is by engaging in simple conversation, a small
gesture, volunteering some time, whatever it may be, I want to be outside of myself, my
comfort zone and my privilege.
Most of these problems at a global scale seems so overwhelming that of course it
is easy to pass as insurmountable, and can be quick and painless to turn the other cheek.
All I ask is that we make eye contact with those we normally wouldn’t, and see yourself,
your struggle, in the humans around you. Compassion only occurs if we try. It doesn’t
magically appear if we wish for it, it comes with effort, with attention and with empathy.
Empathy is a human response that we are all capable of. There is no longer time for the
idea of “it isn’t my problem.” It is, in some way these struggles around us come to affect
our lives in some way, shape or form. We have a choice to make: we can sit and watch
our communities crumble one at a time, or we can choice to stand together as a human
race, as a unit—as the similar genome that we all are.
- December 2015