[box] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1:
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”[/box]
I used to get this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, when I witnessed someone suffering with an illness or homeless on the streets. I felt the sting of injustice when I saw the poor and starving, and to add insult to injury, people simply described their circumstances as “natural selection”. I never had the best circumstances in my life, but there was always someone who had it worse. And those who did have it better would hardly care, tricking themselves into believing that they are making a difference in someone’s life by dropping a few coins in a broken Styrofoam cup on the way to work.
[box] “The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.” – Pope Francis[/box]
I was very aware of the injustice and imbalance. Because I have experienced many sides of this spectrum, I can say wholeheartedly that the world needs compassion.
Pity is not enough. Feeling bad for someone doesn’t change anything.
Empathy is not enough. It’s not enough to imagine yourself in their position.
We need Compassion, which is defined as: “Deep awareness of the suffering of another, and the desire to relieve it.”
[box] “Peace in society cannot be understood as pacification or the mere absence of violence resulting from the domination of one part of society over others. Nor does true peace act as a pretext for justifying a social structure which silences or appeases the poor, so that the more affluent can placidly support their lifestyle while others have to make do as they can.” – Pope Francis[/box]
[learn_more caption=”Read the full quote here”] “Peace in society cannot be understood as pacification or the mere absence of violence resulting from the domination of one part of society over others. Nor does true peace act as a pretext for justifying a social structure which silences or appeases the poor, so that the more affluent can placidly support their lifestyle while others have to make do as they can. Demands involving the distribution of wealth, concern for the poor and human rights cannot be suppressed under the guise of creating a consensus on paper or a transient peace for a contented minority. The dignity of the human person and the common good rank higher than the comfort of those who refuse to renounce their privileges. When these values are threatened, a prophetic voice must be raised. Nor is peace “simply the absence of warfare, based on a precarious balance of power; it is fashioned by efforts directed day after day towards the establishment of the ordered universe willed by God, with a more perfect justice among men”. In the end, a peace which is not the result of integral development will be doomed; it will always spawn new conflicts and various forms of violence.” – Pope Francis[/learn_more]
America Needs Compassion
“Corporate America” or so you have heard. America focuses so much on business, that we neglect our own families. Businesses in America could care less if you or your family are sick. A working American will spend 40+ hours, if they are lucky enough to find full time work, away from home. You are only allowed certain amounts of sick days, usually a very low number, and if your family is sick, you won’t be able to spend time with them without risking losing your job. Some jobs offer personal time, though not many, and if you run out of personal days, you can forget about requesting time off for your sister’s wedding. These are the same jobs in which you do not earn enough money to support yourself. So you have to work harder by getting a second job, in order to simply pay your bills and feed your family.
Middle class families in America need compassion. The system is made of people, not machines, and these companies need to have more compassion towards their employees.
On another side of the coin, some people do not have jobs, and some cannot get jobs. For all the people who live out of a homeless shelter with no job or only a part time job, for all of those people living with their families because they can’t earn enough money to support their own families, for all the people living on the streets or living out of their cars, have some compassion. These people need it the most. The sick, the homeless war veterans, the poor, the unfortunate, and the hungry. These people need compassion the most.
While the wealthy live in luxury, buying new flat screen TV’s and game consoles, the poor are wondering how they are going to pay rent, feed their kids, or stay safe on the streets tonight. Let me remind you that choosing to buy that new television or game console or whatever, is a choice to feed your luxury before helping someone in need.
Let’s take a quick look at an infographic that shows hunger statistics in the United States of America.
I’m not saying that no one can have nice things. I’m saying that we need to live more simply, and give more to those in need. Give what you can. And I’m sorry for this next unpopular opinion, but buying Starbucks every day (or cigarettes), going out to eat a few times a week, buying new electronics a few times a month just because you want to… And then saying that you can’t give much, or that you only do what you can – that’s not true. It’s time to stop lying to ourselves. We are so convinced we are helping each other. We have made a conscious choice to give ourselves luxurious gifts, before helping those who barely survive.
Money aside, what about those who have no one else? The homeless who have no family? The mentally ill people who are abandoned? Widows? Someone who, for whatever reason, is alone in this world? How do we have compassion towards them?
[box] “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” – Mother Teresa[/box]
We need compassion ourselves. We need help to change our ways. We need to feel compassion towards each other, especially towards those who have less than we do.
India Needs Compassion
While India cares more about their family, unlike Corporate America, India needs so much compassion. People pass the homeless and hungry people on the streets, without flinching. People will become so absorbed in helping their family, that they do not care about helping anyone else. The truth is, the people you pass on the streets are your brothers and sisters.
Wealth and lack of wealth play an important role in India, and status and caste too often determine the quality of one’s life. India needs to take a hard look at compassion. Indians who practice “untouchability” should be ashamed of themselves. These people need compassion the most. It’s unacceptable to consider someone beneath you in general, let alone so beneath you that you cannot touch or be touched by them. That they can not enter your home or touch your things. This is unacceptable, India. But we have to have compassion towards these uneducated and spiritually underdeveloped people, and hope that they learn compassion for the less fortunate they look down on.
[box] “Every single being, even those who are hostile to us, is just as afraid of suffering as we are, and seeks happiness in the same way we do. Every person has the same right as we do to be happy and not to suffer. So let’s take care of others wholeheartedly, of both our friends and our enemies. This is the basis for true compassion.” – Dalai Lama XIV[/box]
Indian people need to have more compassion towards one another. Some people are more concerned with how someone looks, than they are the quality of that person. Judgment is sin. Judgment will prevent love from flourishing. Judgment will suppress growth. Judgment prevents compassion. How can you feel deeply for the suffering of another, and develop a desire to help them, if you are sizing them up and thinking negatively of them? It’s not possible.
[box] “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” – Mother Teresa
“Only love can fill the empty spaces caused by evil.” – Pope Francis
“An example I often use to illustrate the reality of vanity is this: look at the peacock—it’s beautiful if you look at it from the front, but if you look at it from behind, you discover the truth… Whoever gives in to such self-absorbed vanity has huge misery hiding inside them.” – Pope Francis on Vanity[/box]
I explain this to my family all the time. Many Indians are fighting the battle against these injustices – India is changing in a major way. Often, injustices are created by the uneducated, closed-minded, spiritually underdeveloped, extremists, or those affected by dogma.
Injustice towards women is a huge problem worldwide, but right now I’m talking about India. While women have rights, they are still very limited. While arranged marriages are mostly consensual, in some cases they are forced. Whether by emotional pressure or physical force. In many homes, the woman is expected to do all the housework, as well as raise the children, cook the food and give up many of her freedoms. Again, while some women want this kind of life, others are forced or pressured into it. What’s worse is that if anything goes wrong, women are likely the first to be blamed or punished.
[box] United Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16:
(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.[/box]
Rapes are treated as an inconvenience and bring shame to the woman. Rape statistics in India are surprisingly not the highest in the world, as some would assume, but many women are pressured not to report their rape. Women are blamed for “wearing jeans” or “yoga pants” and otherwise dressing modernly, as if their clothes have anything to do with the violent behavior of men. I was dressed very modestly when that creep in the market behaved inappropriately. Indian women need compassion. India needs compassion.
Honor killings… In an “honor killing”, a member of the family will kill another member (usually a woman) because they believe she has brought shame to the family. In a recent honor killing, parents strangled their daughter for marrying a man against their wishes. So not only does a person have to fear their family disowning them, women have to fear their family killing them. These sick views are a result of dogma.
It boils down to: They care more about society’s judgment than their children and family. That’s disturbing. It’s absolutely not honorable to kill someone, especially someone who loved and trusted you. These families need to have compassion for their children and their society. India needs compassion, desperately, right now.
Humanity Needs Compassion
Humanity is complex, is it not? We call a crime against another “human nature”, but we also label an extreme act of kindness a “great example of humanity.” Outside of America and India, the rest of the world is suffering just as much. Now more than ever, we need each other.
This video will prove that everyone can be compassionate. Everyone can give, everyone can love, everyone can be kind.
While we are capable of serving ourselves, we need to help others. If you take a look around you, you will notice that the people who have the least will help the most. I’m asking you and challenging you to do more. I want to bring awareness to this crisis.
What do you think needs to change? Who needs compassion the most? Spread the word, and above all, take action! Be compassionate!
If you want to help raise awareness, share this blog post with the hashtag: #1000Speak.
What will you do?