I see a lot of really wonderful people who struggle with the suffering in this world. This is of course only a sign of their empathetic connection to others. If we’re witnessing pain, and we succeed in avoiding the creation of any judgments, then it’s quite natural for us to recall our own experiences of similar pain. That generally leads us to experience a very personal sense of compassion within ourselves.
The issue is, because modern society is addicted to critical over-thinking, people are turning an empathetic connection into a narrative that rides ‘over top’ of many other unrelated moments. When we’re at lunch with co-workers, we can talk about science, or nature, or sports, or business, or our hobbies. But if we spend that time unproductively discussing the problems of the world, and we find ourselves engaged in judgments and blame, then we can know that we are talking about our compassion, we are not feeling it.
No one stopped a war from the lunchroom at work. But we can be gracious when a co-worker makes a mistake. We can be patient with people who don’t understand something as well as we do. We can let people into traffic, give a compliment, or do someone an unexpected favour.
The world’s issues are created due to the collective actions of entire societies. None of us controls society, but we can all take ownership of ourselves. And in doing so, we can make sincere, conscious efforts to engage with our fellow Earthlings with compassion and respect.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.