February 20. The day has finally arrived!
Well, in the east, anyway. It’s still February 19th over here.
But we’re one world.
So today, on UN World Day of Social Justice, over #1000 Bloggers will flood the Internet with GOOD and post about compassion.
I wrote on the genesis of the idea here. But to summarize:
And bloggers spread the word. I read Lizzi’s post and, like others, posted my own. Then others found mine and so on. It’s been personally uplifting to see others bloggers I love read my post and commit to posting. Regina at Vintage 1973. Clare at Clare Flourish. Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales. I love to think each of us, and 1000s of others, are each out there constructively thinking about how to bring a bit more compassion into the world.
Given compassion has been constantly in the back of my mind since signing up, I’ve been seeing and participating in small moments of compassion more consciously in the past month.
Then Tuesday morning, it was easily below -30 Celsius with wind chill. I had just left for work and was driving onto the main street in my ‘hood when I saw a woman running like crazy for the bus.
I admit my first thought was: Shit, I’m going to get stuck behind the bus.
But no. Despite the woman’s best efforts – waving her hands, running with that panicked “Goddamnit NOTICE ME!” lack of decorum I know well as a former Ottawa winter bus rider, the bus pulled out just as she arrived at the stop, leaving her to wait for the next one.
I didn’t think about it. I slowed, rolled down my window and said, “I don’t know you. But it’s freezing and at least 20 minutes until the next bus. Do you want a ride to the transit station? It’s on my way.”
No hesitation. She got in. Grateful thanks. Comment that the bus had been early (shocking).
I dropped her off a seven minute drive (25 minute walk) later at the transit station and that was that.
It had no impact time-wise on my commute. I suspect it made hers infinitely better.
I had a momentary realization once she got in the car that I had PICKED UP A STRANGER! Horror movies flashed momentarily before my eyes (in 8:00 am rush hour traffic), until the other me sounded in with the counterpoint that, no, I had PICKED UP A NEIGHBOUR.
Welcome back to the Village. You know, that one it takes to raise our kids. Committed to common courtesy, simple kindness and compassion. And an acknowledgement that we really are all in this together.
I’d missed it. Maybe I’ve been missing my perspectacles of late, and haven’t been looking. Cynicism and the assumption that, well, everyone’s looking out for themselves, has jaded me in recent years.
That moment, along with others in the past month, have made me realize that compassion doesn’t have to be huge.
As I alluded to in my post last month, in my youth I thought big, but marriage, and kids, and mortgage, and, well LIFE, had a way of … focussing me on, well, me and mine.
I knew the world was OUT THERE with HOARDS OF HUMANITY all OOZING NEED. I worried if I decided to care about SOMETHING beyond what is in my most immediate focus, I might need to care about EVERYTHING.
But I realized it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Because I don’t have to fix everything.
I can engage and show compassion in small, finite ways that can ripple out that make a difference far beyond me.
I can give a ride. I can donate clothes to cerebral palsy and the diabetes foundation. I can donate our crib to a new Canadian family. I can give $10 to the organization I once gave HOURS to and that I still ardently believe in. I can read that extra book with my child. I can stop blogging and hang with her watching Barbie on the couch, because she wants me to engage and be with her in her world. I can mentor a student. I can watch my neighbour’s grandson when she needs help.
Millions of people doing similar small pieces add up to change.
I’ve spent the last month seeing compassion everywhere. Because I was looking for it.
It has done wonders both for my general perspective on life and for my consciously realizing when I can jump in and, well, give a little bit.
And the Internet – even outside this #1000Speak blast of awesome – is chalk full of good.
Like the Kindness Blog:
Or Huff Post:
Or how about Kid President:
Look for the good. Because it’s there.
Last night, I came across this 48 word post.
I wish I could say so much with so little.
Undo indifference. Compassion indeed.
Then this morning, I was coming out of three hours of focussed policy effort, deep in descriptions of how policy developers need to ensure various lenses are taken into account: gender-based analysis lens, small business lens … You could lose yourself in re-examining policy through lens after lens after lens (seniors lens, mental health lens…). All important, but where does it stop? And what are we actually trying to get at?
Ultimately we’re striving for fairness. Understanding and incorporation of different perspectives. And then I pondered viewing things through a compassion lens. Does it oversimplify? Of course. Equity issues aren’t about compassion. But moving back to the individual level, I think compassion should guide us all when we look at the world and determine how we choose to participate in it. Each decision we make, no matter how small, can ripple out. So if we can all consciously take a moment to, where possible, choose compassion, even in tiny measures, if many of us do so, all those ripples create the wave that might start something incredible.
So I will choose where possible to be consciously compassionate and hope that either one of my ripples starts a wave, or that my small ripple joins with, say #1000 others and creates something wonderful.
This is my voice and addition to #1000Speak. Share yours.