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The Art of Compassion

As many of you have witnessed, the power of social media has the distinct possibility to influence our grief in either positive or negative ways.  We watch and listen as horrific tragedies befall our country, terrible enough on its own, and then we are inundated by talking heads and everyone who wants to spew vitriol and anger towards anyone and everyone who will listen.  It creates intense feelings of anger, bafflement and for others, justification that what they strongly believe in is true, thus giving them the authority to belittle and dismiss people whose opinions differ from their own.

What I have seen lacking in conversations is the simple and overlooked art of compassion.  People are more focused on “being right” and fighting for their political parties or belief systems thus leaving people who are experiencing tremendous loss and grief feeling kicked to the curb, lost and forgotten amongst the battle of the fight for individual freedoms.  For me, this has caused intense sadness and confusion that we, as a nation appear to have consigned to oblivion those who are grieving and are in need of moral support.  We witness their tears and hear their cries of anguish, and yet, it appears as if we are more focused on “what are my rights” versus taking a moment to step back and absorb the ramifications of what has happened and how it has affected us all.

Compassion is truly an art form, one that takes practice and refinement in order to truly find comfort in doling it out to others with ease, but that does not mean that we are not all capable of performing such acts.  It takes little to no effort to reach out to others, to stop and think before we act or say something that might be hurtful or demeaning.  Never should we find it within our hearts to be so focused on our own desires that we become desensitized and heartless towards others.  We must remember to be present and truly listen to those that are suffering, to engage in empathy and understanding.  We should avoid judgment and the notion that your opinion is the only “right one” and that all others are “wrong.”  Conversations need to be held and discussions ensue in order to truly “hear” what people are going through and how their individual experiences could potentially impact the greater whole.

As neighbors, it is my hope that we learn to develop more warmth and sensitivity to those who are grieving; to be more tolerant of those whose lives have changed and then demonstrate more kindness and tenderness in our interactions with them.  Being dismissive or avoiding the issue can create a chasm that eventually will feel as if it is too wide to cross, and when that happens, any chance of comfort or providing compassion is
lost.

Being a counselor in a world that is constantly feeling attacked daily, I simply try to keep my mind clear and my heart open to everyone’s battles.  I listen and absorb differences and I present alternate views at times in order to assist those who are struggling with their loss, trying mostly in vain to understand what has happened to them and why their support system appears to have changed.  I remind them that grief changes us, and when that happens, it is often difficult for those who surround us to understand and accept these changes.  Some disappear and some grow even stronger in their love and support, but overall, it is the act of compassion that continuously breaks through the ugly wall of indifference and provides the one thing we find we need the most when we are feeling inconsolable- a loving and clean heart that beats within an individual who truly understands.