Compassion is about love. It is not only about feeling love, it is about making it real by showing it. Prayer is great, but action is greater. Part of showing love is being aware that every single person is worthy of love. This includes the nice people and the not so nice people. Jesus tells us that it is easy to love the nice people. The real test is how do we treat people who are mean?
A lady asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama when he was in Louisville, KY in 2013 how to be compassionate towards the Boston bombers. I think his answer can be used for any situation where a person has been violent. He said that we must separate action from actor. The person is not the deed. The action is bad, but there is hope for the person. The person made a bad choice. The person is still deserving of love.
Jesus tells us we are to love our enemies. Buddhists tell us we are to do the same. Perhaps if our enemies had been shown more love in their lives, they would not be violent. The behavioral manuals say that all behavior is communication. Children will seek attention in a negative way if they don’t get it in a positive way. Their negative behaviors occur because their positive actions were ignored.
What can we do on our own to make this world a better place? Every single act of kindness can literally save the world. In the Hebrew scriptures, Abraham bargained with God so that Sodom and Gomorrah would not be destroyed if just ten good people lived there. Sadly, ten good people weren’t found. But how do you know that the same situation isn’t about to happen with your town? This gives a whole new meaning to the line “Be good for goodness sake.” In this example, your goodness is about saving the world. It can bring about true healing.
So how can we show compassion? We can start off with not being judgmental. We never know what the other person has gone through. We need to think of the other person’s needs. We need to put ourselves in their shoes. We can learn about other faiths and cultures, and how to say thank you in other languages.
We need to think about if what we say we believe and what we do are in harmony. If we believe that it is important to take care of the earth, then we need to recycle and use less gasoline for instance. We need to consume less of everything. We need to think about how our actions affect the earth and those around us, because everything is connected.