Thich Nhat Hanh once said that “Compassion is a verb”. A verb is a word used to describe an action. Compassion is defined on Dictionary.com as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune”; a feeling…a noun. Although there is a clear paradox in these two definitions, Hanh’s statement is truly powerful. He is implying that compassion is not a passive state of being…it’s not just a feeling. The state of compassion points us to a need for action.
The world is currently in a sad shape, so surrounded are we by hatred, fear, war, and adversity. Countries are bombing one another over the very things we should be coming together over. God, no matter what name you call Him/Her/It by, should be a unifying force between us, and yet our need to be right continuously throws up senseless barriers. Natural disasters are wiping out countries that are living in absolute squalor, yet we have building materials stocking shelves in every Home Depot across the country, sitting unused. Children across the world are starving, and here we are with a Publix on every single corner. I could go on and on and on. We have all experienced that moment, watching the news, sick to our stomach at the turmoil we are seeing on the screen, wondering how people can do these things to one another, to the planet, etc. We watch helplessly on, feeling sympathy for others in their suffering and wishing there was something we could do about it. However, can you imagine what kind of a world we could create if, together, we put some action behind these feelings?
This post is not meant to be depressing, nor is it meant to be a rant about all of the things we are doing wrong as a society. It is simply meant to raise awareness. How are YOU showing up each day? Are you putting action behind your compassion? It’s so easy to get caught up in the feeling of being one, small voice, but we are each so much bigger than that if we simply TRY to be heard. One small voice becomes two small voices, and then three and four, and eventually hundreds of voices getting louder and louder and louder, until perhaps the day comes where our voices boom louder even than the poverty, louder than the hunger, louder than the bombs ravaging countries. However, if we allow ourselves to fall back into this helplessness we may feel, we are relinquishing any power that we could potentially have to positively impact our future and the lives of those around us.
Each of us will leave our impact differently. Maybe we become the voice for those without the resources to speak out, maybe we raise money for a cause we are passionate about, or maybe we fly abroad to volunteer in impoverished countries. Maybe our role in the process is as simple as lending an ear to someone who needs to be listened to, or offering a smile and a hug to someone who is going through a tough time. All of these acts, no matter how big or small, matter. YOU matter! Your voice matters. Your decision to take action rather than submit to the world as it is, matters. SO. VERY. MUCH.
As we approach a new week, I urge each and every one of you to use each day within it to take some form of action. Where does your compassion draw you? What cause, circumstance, person, or charity needs your one, small voice, so that theirs can grow loud enough to be heard? Start simple. Write a blog, send a love letter, share a smile, buy the guy in line behind you a cup of coffee without telling him. Every act of compassion ignites a spark in its recipient and any others lucky enough to watch it happen. Be that spark. We are all one family, all wanting the same things from this life. Safety, security, happiness, triumph, peace, and love. You, no matter who you are, have the opportunity to help provide these things to people all across the board, whether you know it or not. Your one, simple smile could be just the thing that ignites the spark in another, who then goes off to change the world. You never know how powerful you are, but know that you are far more powerful than you think.