She was determined to inform me of my pending idiocy by interrupting a conversation I was having with a young father and his little daughter out in front of a Wal-Mart. The two of them had stopped me as I was exiting the establishment, explaining that they were without a home and needed some money for food.
The lady who had decided to interject her opinion into the situation glared at the pair begging for money and punctuated her warning by saying to the father, “Why don’t you get a job?”
Fortunately, she glided away on her magic carpet of self-righteousness. The little girl hung her head and the father rose to his feet as if he was going to follow. I held my hand up, motioning to him to stop.
“Now, where were we?” I said, calming their spirits.
Here’s the truth, my dear friends. I don’t care if it’s a scam.
I don’t care if the drunk on the street is getting a buck off of me to buy the cheapest Ripple in the local liquor store. I don’t care if the fellow with the elaborate story concerning his broken-down car, which needs a five dollar repair, is just a way to boost cash from me. The transactions which happen between human beings are not investments and therefore do not require brokers. It is not necessary for us to determine the validity of the need.
In this country we are continually stumping about the need for compassion. But you see, compassion is completely impossible if you’ve closed all the doors to your human heart which might allow you to be moved.
Americans do not lack compassion–we have just been trained to be cynical and are nearly incapable of being moved. Honestly, folks, if you’re not moved, you will never be able to tap the root of your compassion. Every day of my life is that pursuit — working very hard to unload the boxes of my burdens, prejudices, anger and frustration so that compassion can move freely through my human space.
I occasionally will purposely get up very early in the morning, before dawn, to see if I still have the tenderness to be moved by the rising sun.
I will sit in my van and listen to music that gentles my spirit to allow the tears to flow freely.
I practice being moved because without that training, I am vacant of compassion.
Here are two sentences I complete in every situation:
1. “If it were me…” Honestly I did not see a man and his young daughter in front of the store. No, I saw myself thirty-eight years ago, having just been evicted from an apartment and not knowing where to go, desperately needing someone to purchase a pint of blackberries I had picked, granting me a few quarters to buy bread and bologna. I recalled that sensation and it moved me. Candidly, I will never be moved by the plight of others unless I am able to insert myself into the situation.
2. “If I don’t…” In other words, if I don’t fill the gap, do I really think there is someone possessing more generosity than me, who will come along and help these people out with something other than useless advice about needful employment? I often realize I cannot trust my society to be compassionate. The burden is mine. So therefore I have deed and title to the blessing.
- If it were me…
- If I don’t…
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