“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”—- Lao Tzu
Stories and incidents on compassion have been narrated and heard, some of them have even touched our lives deeply. But those small, not so famous deeds and thoughts, that have a human touch to them, often go ignored because they don’t make into a great story. But a great story of a human reaching out to another in times of need sometimes begins with small and insignificant moves. Sometimes compassion can be in everyday life.
“Can you feel what I feel? Or do you always judge me for all that seems to be out of place to you?”
Not many of us pause to think about this amid our super busy lives that we live today. Not many of us would feel the need to take responsibility to appease the sufferings of the less fortunate or the underprivileged.
Let alone bigger endeavors, many a times we fail to realize that simple, seemingly insignificant acts of kindness (such as educating your house help’s daughter, who cannot afford education, while teaching your own) can bring about a colossal change in someone else’s life.
Compassion may not always be about addressing traumatic, insolvable issues of poverty, hunger and shelter. It can sometimes be right around the corner – nudging us to walk the right path, to listen to our conscience and not simply walk away with an attitude of “I was not born to end the sufferings of every human soul on earth, or it is not my problem as I have too much up my sleeves already!”.
Compassion like charity begins at home. A lot of us (especially those living in countries like India) have domestic help who in due course of time become a part of the family. They clean our homes, babysit for us and cook for us. But most often they are the ones who cannot afford two square meals for their own families. Why go to an orphanage or NGO to donate clothes or money (although that would be noble and generous too) when someone at home needs to get a treat of that kind bone in your body. Offering to give a little something over and above their regular pay/wage would not only help them but also bring you the satisfaction and pleasure. (I know the feeling as I have been there myself).
At a different level from another perspective, I feel compassion can sometimes be a savior for those who are at the brink of an emotional breakdown. Such people are sometimes one of us, maybe you or even me, who need a touch of kindness. Offering to do a daily chore for our family members who have had an exhausting long day and are at the end of their strength; or just stretching your long tiresome day a bit more to read to your toddler his favorite bedtime story without reasoning out with him (as you realize deep down that he missed being with you all day); offering to help your neighbor’s daughter with her science project (for which no matter how many “this” or “that” you had to move around in your absolutely packed schedule); giving away your seat in an overly crowded bus to someone unknown who needs it more than you; or maybe helping a differently abled person cross the streets at rush hour (something I have seen my older brother do almost every day while he was a student in India).
The examples can be many and so hackneyed that we all can relate to most of them. Another niche that needs to be dealt with is compassion towards animals. As Sehopenhauer rightly said, “compassion for animals is ultimately connected with goodness of character; and he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.” Although a bit harsh, nevertheless it conveys the idea.
Compassion is humanity, the thread that connects our hearts with our heads and lets the former (almost every time) triumph over the latter. So to make this world a better place, sometimes we just need to follow our hearts, act selflessly and always remember that not everything in life is done for material gain or reward or recognition or even a thank you. Acts of kindness always bring forth blessings and heart felt good wishes. Sometimes it puts a smile on a sad face or ignites a hope in someone’s heart.
Kind people can bring about a change in the world for they alone have the power to instill and hand over such values to the next generation who someday would take our place.