Compassion: A Spiritual Technology That We Can’t Live Without
It’s 5:30 a.m. on a Sunday. I’m drinking homebrewed coffee from a plain white mug. With a deep breath, I read the latest from The New York Times on the Coronavirus. What I love are the visuals that help put the chaos into better perspective. With the visuals, I’m able to scan the facts then quickly disconnect from the news, without feeling ignorant to what’s happening outside my 1200-square-foot condo.
One of the articles I was reading stated that in the next couple months, we’ll need to make a great deal of sacrifices as a country that we haven’t seen since World War II.
Cat Power’s “What the World Needs Now,” keeps popping into my head. I’ve been thinking a lot about what the world needs right now. Is love, sweet love ... And yes, the song is right — we need love. But the word I’ve been focusing is compassion. I truly believe that its compassion that will lift us up during this time of need.
I have heard from several people that as they bravely go to work or to the grocery store, they have taken notice in how neighbors have been kinder, more gentle.
There is a percentage of us (like myself) that have been fortunate enough to work from home thanks to technology. But for others, technology is their hands. Bartenders, hair stylists, restaurant owners, boutique owners — these are only a few of the occupations that will not be making an income in the next few weeks, even months. They have been told to close business temporarily; business that brings stability to their lives and their families. But during a crisis, bills are sent every month, rent is still due, and food still cost money — so for many, it won’t be temporary.
Then there are, of course, the ones that are still showing up to work because there hands have been considered “esential” to help stop the crisis. They are our protectors: of our health, of our economy, of our world. Doctors, police officers, warehouse workers, nurses, truck drivers, the list goes on! These are the people who are taking risks to protect us and our country.
No matter how much or how little its impacting us on an individual level, compassion is making an appearance. It’s visible, noticeable. It’s present. Although we hear stories of people buying out sanitizer and trying to resell it at a higher price, these types of stories are a small percentage. It’s like what Fred Rogers always said: “Look for the helpers.” As you look more closely while keeping your social distance, you’ll notice we now have a common, worldwide goal: to stop one thing from spreading by making another thing contagious. By spreading compassion, we can make tomorrow better by doing our part to flatten the curve.
Compassion: “stepping out of fear and into the care of someone else,” as Krista Tippett describes it in her book, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living. Krista Tippett. Tippett also describes compassion as a “spirtual technology” that as we become a more technology-driven society, that compassion will continue to be a tool that will help us solve our issues as one human race — and because of that, compassion will be important for science to understand deeply.
Compassion is kind, curious, and non-judgemental.
Compassion goes a step further than showing empathy; compassion is empathy with action. The act of compassion is simpler than we may think. We do not need a million dollars to show compassion, or to quit our jobs that provide us financial stability to volunteer full time, or even give up our creative passions that bring us personal joy during our free time.
We can show compassion by being present.
By simply showing up.