The Art of Compassion
Today’s society is fragmented due to ill-perceived notions and beliefs on race, religion, politics, colour and many of the other attribute one may deem as out of the ordinary.
What is normal? The dictionary definition is when one or something conforms to the standard or common type. How were these standards defined? Through religion, society belief and values, politics and laws but to name a few. Throughout history standards have been set often by the male oligarchy or religion of the time. Until Christianity, women in Pagan Societies had an equal standing, until Henry VIII it was not ‘normal’ to divorce and then set aside by strong independent women. Elizabeth, I allowed multiple religions to be practised in England during her Reign, Eleanor of Aquitaine allowed her subjects freedom and creativity. Emmeline Pankhurst, the renowned Suffragette, told up for women right to vote famously stating "We are here not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers”, even the late Princess Diana lead award winning noble-peace prize-winning campaigns and I must say was spot on when she said "Everyone needs to be valued. Everyone has the potential to give something back”.
Yet today we continue to fight, belittle and undermine those who are not normal, we fail to value those who are different to us as individuals and within society. We undermine those who we or society feel are inferior. The degree to which we do this is dependent on location even down to the village we live in within the UK. For example, I used to live in a village outside of Cambridge, doors were never locked during the day and everyone helped everyone else out, we were all equals, we were all valued and we all gave something back. I never felt alone, isolated or different because I did not conform to the standard family model. We were all a phone call away from one another, no one was turned away, the same was seen in my childhood in Essex.
I now live in Surrey and have done for the last ten years, it has never felt like home or somewhere where I would want to lay down my roots. In one village there was some camaraderie and neighbours helped out neighbours until it became too burdensome. The village I live in now, the lane of ten houses we call home, we’re lucky if we get a hello rather than a disapproving look. Why? My theory is that here everyone has made their money, can afford the houses and are settling down to have families, they feel smug and superior as they have money but are they truly happy. They are so consumed with their achievement of wealth they forget that other people, not as privileged may exist. They fail to think about the person they are judging on looks, correcting their speech or tutting over the behaviour they perceive. They forget that they once were not owned by their wealth and ‘keeping up with the Jones’. Consumed with showing the world how well they’re doing materialistically and not spiritually.
We have forgotten how to be compassionate, how to understand what others are going through. The dictionary defines compassion as sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. The Dalai Lama in ‘The Art of Happiness. A Handbook for Living’ defines compassion as “..a state of mind that is nonviolent, non-harming, and nonaggressive. It is a mental attitude based on the wish for others to be free of their suffering and it is associated with a sense of commitment, responsibility and respect towards others.” Buddhism is not the only religion that teaches the value of commitment, responsibility and respect, all religions do, Muslim and Christians to name a few are taught the importance of these values. All key to a peaceful and collaborative world, country, society and even family. Without compassion violent and aggressive behaviours occur road rage, a street brawl, a failure to acknowledge and thank others and to the extreme fundamentalist terrorism. Just because someone dresses differently, has different colour skin or even hair, believes that Jesus is the Son of God and not a Prophet, a society allows its women to drive and work, it doesn't mean we should be violent towards one another but stop, breathe and think about what the person you're belittling, berating, and being intolerant of is going through, has gone through. Remember when we were young everyone was your friend not matter the creed, colour or race until we were taught to be fearful of differences. At the end of the day we are part of the same species, we are all members of the human race. It is telling of society today that people need to post about the good deeds people do for them because it happens so rarely.
Let us change this by beginning to treat everyone with respect, commitment and responsibility and learn to be truly spiritually happy. We should aim to be more like the amazing and graceful Princess Diana.