Some thoughts about compassion
The pandemic has revealed some stark differences in people. Every day brings some new items of heroism, or selfishness. Society has so many harmful things happening right now, they crowd the camera. They fill the frame, and it’s very hard to see anything else when it’s all in your face.
I’m starting to realize that the convenience of focusing on negative things leads me directly to nastiness. The ease with which I slide from absorbing ever-more-dire news about the world and towards viciousness is upsetting. The fact that it is upsetting tells me I’m not too late to do something about it.
I have thought about this video for many months. It is very short. It speaks volumes: https://youtu.be/eDM-v9jSlSQ
Compassion deserves to be found. It is easily covered up with darkness, with cynicism. When something pushes my buttons, and all my reactions start lining up for attention, compassion gets shoved to the back of the queue. Like children clamoring for recess, anger, hatred, callousness all twist and squirm trying to sprint towards the playground. They want to run riot, trample and cause havoc. That’s how they have fun.
Nowadays I struggle to find compassion at the edges of my attention. It feels like I am holding dark feelings by the shoulders and bodily lifting them out of the way, to clear a space. If I can make a clearing, a bit of compassion can stand undisturbed. It’s a glimpse reminding me to look at kindness the same way we regard a child: something beautiful, something decent. Something holy.
I’ve never had children, but it’s beginning to dawn on me I can nurture my compassion the same way I would a child. I can parent compassion. I’ll make mistakes, and I’ll injure it along the way. Maybe when I start abusing myself for that, it can parent me. That’s not the reason to raise a child, of course: “it will care about me later.” You do it because in the doing of it, you are changed. If you’re lucky, changed into someone better than you started.
And I would like to come out of this horrendous year better than I started.
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The Mengovitzes live in Los Angeles, where Jason and Stacy bake, feed cats, and play Nintendo.