On Compassion

I have this framed quote in my room which I have been contemplating lately:  “Compassion Seems to Be the Greatest Power.”  It’s a strong statement, and one I’m starting to think is true.  I am grateful to feel deeply with other people.  I am grateful that feeling with others most often leads me to action.  And, yet, feeling with is not always easy.

In a recent post, I shared a YouTube clip on mirror neurons–neurons in our brain that respond to what others are experiencing.  We can’t help but smile as we watch the person across the room light up.  We can’t help but cringe when we see someone else hurt.  We literally feel, to some extent, what the other is feeling.  Yet, we are not the other.

Yet, if our brain lights up in compassion, why do we not see how our actions and inactions affect others?  How can there be so many hard, violent, unjust choices made daily by educated, seemingly reasonable people?  We choose to keep ourselves separate.  It’s easier to make a choice that’s good for me but not so good for someone else if they are ‘other’.

We have skin.  We have a natural barrier that makes me a different being that you.  So, then why have both?  Why have barriers that keep us separate and mirror neurons that tell us we are one?

Compassion–so we can feel with and respond to; so we can be there for others and they can be there for us.  Living from a place of compassion is a daily adventure.  Sometimes it’s a comedy, sometimes a tragedy, sometimes an action flick.  Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it brings unspeakable joy.  And, all the time, it is the link that makes us together as one.

–S. Sarah

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