Feeding the Seed of Compassion

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C. Coimbra photo

I have no idea how I will squeeze in a Global Compassion Summit into the coming week’s schedule. I value my well-being, so I’ll find a way. Maybe I’ll get up earlier than my usual dawn-inspired wake up call.

Again, our global society has taken violent behavior and stepped it up a notch. From where I sit, none of these acts look connected. I mean, the Middle Eastern brand of terrorists and their vile behavior, doesn’t seem to have a thing to do with the police who killed two black men this week. And what in the heck does a United States of America veteran have to do with ambushing police and killing them? The same goes for the terrorists that play blow-up in Israel, gangsters on the streets of Chicago shooting children, a kid flying a Confederate flag and killing people during a church service, and on and on and on. Visit a compiled list of terror incidents in 2016 if you feel the need to drag your soul through the mud.

In truth, every single one of these acts are connected by the flowering of the same seed — compassion lost. Whether compassion was lost upon the child who grew up angry; whether compassion was lost because of preconceived notions; whether compassion was lost because of something empty in that perpetrator’s soul, the seed of compassion never blossomed.

Maybe that’s why I spent the last two hours piddling around in my garden today when I should be tackling a rather frightful lists of responsibilities. My garden, straining to make its way through years of drought, an onslaught of overly fertile gophers, and plagues of noxious beetles, still strives to blossom and give me fruit. In fact, one rose shrub is so prolific in pink blossom that passersby stop to admire its magnificence. The lemon tree gives me more lemons than I can make into cakes, drinks, and dressings. I ate artichokes from the garden until I gave thanks that the plants were done for the season. And there are so many blackberries about to ripen in the garden, that I’m sure I’ll have plenty to freeze and savor later this winter. I gave each of those plants love and care even in the garden’s most impoverished moments. Yes, I used every bit of gardening compassion that I could muster to help them meet their potential. And they responded with generous gratitude.

I probably have lost readers at this point. Those who follow a confused definition of the word compassion and align it with moral permissiveness, socialism, or a Biblical directive of an eye for an eye, have already called me Pollyanna and slammed the door shut. But try to hang on here. It’s deeper than that.

There are people, historically and presently, who for lack of a better phrase, were born under a bad sign. I’ve known some of them personally. For one reason or the other, they seem to have never developed a conscience that allowed them to judge good from bad. The ones that I’ve personally known had alcoholic or chemically dependent mothers. So, like the sickly tomato plant that I brought home thinking that I could make it grow with love and “compassion” (written while laughing at myself), the tomato could not respond to my care because something was missing within that plant from the beginning. What do we do with people born with something missing from the beginning? The philosophy of compassion says to treat them kindly and with patience, but be mindful of their behavior and inherent ways. Psychopaths and sociopaths require professional help, and it does us well as a society to work with that as best we can.

But this is where some are lost because of ignorance, lack of finances, or desperate times. The way I see compassion applied is to bring help to those in need because they can not care for themselves. And, perhaps, like that sickly tomato plant I nurtured, it produced 2 tomatoes and was not a complete failure. The tomato plant did its best to work within its limits within my garden society.

These are challenging moments, and not with simplistic answers. But I hold true to my belief, that a basic lack of compassion runs the opposite of healthy and fertile ground.

Compassion does not seek blame. It seeks answers to hideous behavior. I’ve read some wild finger pointing and blame-shaming without an ounce of why these people behaved in such inhumane ways — or why they choose to not work within society. It’s easier to pull a trigger than to stand for tolerance, seek a peaceful solution, and take control of emotions, I suppose. It’s easier to let anger, presumption and prejudice (on both sides) to slither through the heart than to take a deep breath, maybe say a prayer or a positive affirmation, and let one’s inner wisdom take control, I suppose.

It takes work, patience, failure, and forgiveness to grow the seed of compassion.

Still, I understand that while the compassion movement grows daily, much works remains on the to do list — much like that list on my desk that I have yet to tackle today.

Readers who have stuck with my ramblings are invited to join me in taking these actions for personal growth (nurturing the seed):

  • Take a check on our emotional hygiene;
  • Understand the reasons for our feelings;
  • Learn how to mind our feelings;
  • Develop muscular compassion;
  • Put compassion into action.

There are as many ways to become a force for good as there are plants in a garden. Some plants are a joy to see; some plants nourish our bodies; some plants spur delightful fragrances into the air; some plants heal; some plants color fabric; some plants live to feed insects, birds, and reptiles; and others give us shelter. So, the actions we take to become a true force for good are varied and sized to fit any kind of person.

And, if your find the time, the Global Compassion Summit is free and accessed online.

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2 thoughts on “Feeding the Seed of Compassion

  1. It’s a hell of world we live in. Last Friday my 30s’something daughter Florence called me, a somewhat irregular occurrence in itself. As we were exchanging greetings I sensed in the timbre of her voice that a flood of tears were just nanoseconds away. After the tears burst forth it took quite a bit of coaxing to settle her down. Then I had to start the process that would cause her to reveal the origin of her tears.

    It turns out to be very simplistic — violence. Everywhere she turn she was confronted with news reports from Baton Rouge, LA; Falcon Heights, MN; at Dallas, TX. She had developed sensory overload from the medias reporting of the spate of killings. While I did my best to sooth her over the phone, but even paternal reassurance is diluted when separated by more than 1,000 miles.

    When a society as diverse as ours is created over the course 300+ years it leads me ponder, whether will it take another 300+ years to legislate safer arms laws. Can we even legislate feelings? I suspect not, but we can legislate norms of behavior. Let’s get started with solutions for both before the internecine nature of today’s society destroys the great gift that our Founders gave us!

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