Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Compassion is an act.

(kəm'pas(ə)n/) noun
A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

Looking at the newspapers and the news bulletins today one would believe that caring for ones fellow man is non-existent. It seems that everyone is in for oneself with disregard for his neighbour.

Compassion is sacrificed in the name of the balance sheet and profit, and 'others' have been superseded by 'self'.

The terrible events on the 13th November in Paris can only demonstrate the evil intent of some people. Regardless of the reasons that these people use to justify their actions, it is the antithesis of compassion.

In every day life we come across many small examples of lack of compassion for others and 'selfish society' is a term that everyone can recognise.

I suspect that we would all say that we are not one of these people and that we do have compassion for others. I wouldn't argue with that but I would like to challenge this further in that we can all feel compassion for others but what do we actually do about it? How many of us actually do something about the people we sympathise with, assuming we are in a position to do so?

I am not pointing the finger as I am as guilty of this as anyone so I am speaking to myself too.

The words of a song I knew in the 1970s come to mind. 'Compassion is an act and not a word'. Now we all know that compassion is a word but what the author meant was that compassion without action is not worth much. We can all feel sorry for someone, and even say we feel sorry for them, but unless we back it up with action it does not achieve much.

Another news item that fills the bulletins at this time is the thousands of immigrants that are finding their way to Europe from war-torn Syria and other areas in the Middle East. The pure number of them is enough for us to get nervous and be concerned about our own way of life, protecting our jobs and benefits amidst financial restrictions, closing ranks and metaphorically pulling up the drawbridge to keep the 'intruders' out.

These are real and legitimate concerns of course, but looking at the other side of the picture, can you imagine yourself living in a land where murder and slaughter are an every day occurrence? Where your children are playing amongst the rubble of bombed out buildings, and food and other essentials are scarce or non-existent? On top of this you know that your own government is corrupt and ineffective.
You have heard of this distant country who will welcome you, give you aid and encourage you and, if you are prepared to work, you will be able to earn a decent living and bring up your family in peace.
I ask you, what would you do?

Wouldn't we all try to find a better life for our families?

Of course we cannot all give a home to these people or assist in the rescue of them from the boats or give financial aid, and we can pray and donate to charities.
There is one more thing that we can do, we can recognise that these people are human beings with feelings and relationships and families just like us - and also that God loves each one as His own, regardless of their nationality, religion, or whether they acknowledge Him or not.

Surely this is where compassion begins.

Compassion is an act and not a word
Sorry can be felt not only heard
Unspoken love is known by those who are not spoken to 
Loving acts say more
Than kindly words can do

A hand to hold in need makes the darkness fly
A smile can make the painful times go by
Gentle guiding narrow roads
Steps unsleeping unburdened loads
We all search for the answer 
Have you found the one
Who is the source of love

(Protected by international copyright laws Barbara Goldie-Scott)