There are a lot of things to care about in this world, and not least of these is each other.
What do you care about?
Plastic in the oceans
This week I am joining in with the #1000Speak for Compassion project which calls on “Bloggers from all over the world (to come) together to talk about compassion, in one epic event on February 20, 2015.”
Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch is also promoting the project through her flash fiction prompt which challenges writers to: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that demonstrates compassion. In her post Charli refers to two words which have been raised and discussed by our blogging community recently.
These two words are:
Weltschmerz which was discussed on Anne Goodwin’s blog in a post entitled 20th-century lives: The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck
Meliorism which was discussed in my post entitled How much of a meliorist are you?
Thanks Charli for explaining that Weltschmerz refers to “world pain” or the grief we feel at how the world keeps falling short of our expectations and meliorism to a belief that the world can be improved by the actions of humans.
Some of the items listed above are definitely cause for both weltschmerz and meliorism, but most send us a call to action. What action we take depends very much upon our beliefs and our circumstances. In an article in The Guardian earlier this year, Oliver Burkeman states that “World pain is bad – but numbness to world pain would be worse.”
However compassion is more than weltschmertz (seeing the pain) and more than meliorism (believing that something can be done about it).
In this TED talk, Joan Halifax explains that
“compassion is comprised of that capacity to see clearly into the nature of suffering. It is the ability to really stand strong and to recognize that I’m not separate from this suffering … (and that) we actually aspire to transform suffering. And if we’re so blessed, we engage in activities that transform suffering. But … we cannot be attached to the outcome.”
In the talk Halifax explains that compassion is good for us, it enlivens us and makes us resilient, it also develops our immunity.
“if compassion is so good for us, I have a question. Why don’t we train our children in compassion?”
In my next post, to coincide with #1000Speak for Compassion on Friday 20th I will be looking at some ways that have been suggested to answer that question. If you wish to add your voice to the call follow this link for suggestions of how you can be involved.
For now I will leave you with my response to Charli’s challenge. I have not tried to address compassion on a global scale but have thought smaller.
In her talk Halifax said that “compassion is actually an inherent human quality. It is there within every human being. But the conditions for compassion to be activated, to be aroused, are particular conditions.”
I wondered how feelings of compassion might be activated in the life of a young woman from an impoverished and abusive background.
In the ‘smart’ outfit carefully selected by the charity shop attendant, Marnie was surprised how well the confident exterior masked the whirlpool of fear, anxiety and insecurity.
Without looking up, the receptionist handed Marnie a number and waved her to the waiting area.
“9”. Her heart sank. “That many?”
Avoiding contact and ‘contamination’, she squeezed into the only available space: between a boy slouching awkwardly and a girl picking her fingernails.
The girl started crying. Marnie stiffened, but glanced sideways. The girl cried into her sleeve.
Marnie breathed, proffered her unopened purse packet of ‘just-in-case’ tissues, and smiled, “Here.”
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post or flash fiction.