“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” — Albert Einstein
The ancient Greeks defined four distinct types of love, and modern psychologists and poets and philosophers have expanded the list a bit, but at the core of compassion lies “Agape” – which is defined as the love we feel for our our fellow humans, warts and all. We don’t necessarily need to ‘like’ them, but as fellow humans, we do love them – and it is from this love that compassion springs forth.
In the two years since 1000 Voices Speak for Compassions first began, bloggers from across the globe have been contributing their own posts and sharing the posts of others. We covered a range of topics through the lens of compassion, but the overarching theme of these posts is love. The subject matter may be different, but love it surely is. Love, and hope for the future, is why we participate.
“Love and compassion benefit both ourselves and others. Through kindness to others, your heart and mind will be peaceful and open.” — Dalai Lama
Reflecting on the past two years, I think that participating has made me more aware of my words and actions – and of the impact that they have. I still find that I sometimes focus more on the global than on the local because there never seems to be enough time, but that’s okay, too. And I still believe that as we act with compassion within our our own small parts of the universe, when and how we can, those acts ripple out. And if enough of us are acting compassionately, and kindly, the message, and the love, will spread. The world is often a terrible looking place these days, but we humans are, by an large, caring, compassionate people who just need to see that we are not alone in order to rise above the darkness. We all have the capacity to bring about change. And that change has to start within ourselves. And when I started writing this, I was infected by an ear worm of Under Pressure a collaboration of David Bowie & Queen, that is one of my favorite songs:
“‘Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
— Queen & David Bowie “Under Pressure“
And love, compassion, does indeed call for us to care for our fellow humans – and it is crucial to human survival that we heed that call.
This weekend, the Charter for Comapssions email newsletter arrived, and within it I found this reminder of why it is so important that we keep on doing what we can to make the world a better place:
Hold on to what is good,
Even if it’s a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe,
Even if it’s a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do,
Even if it’s a long way from here.
Omnia vincit amor