In a world full of bigotry and hatred, people need to learn compassion and love for one another. What greater change we can make than start within ourselves first!
We preach of having compassion towards our fellow humans, but what does it really take for us to learn this trait? What do we have to inculcate in our hearts to attain compassionate character? Can we self-teach ourselves?
“As we seek to create a more compassionate world, we too must think outside the box, reconsider the major categories of our time, and find new ways of dealing with today’s challenges.” - Karen Armstrong
The truth is that we cannot be compassionate without knowing what it is and what it would take for us to be so. We first need to learn about the characters that we will need to inculcate it within us.
Basically, compassion is taught in most of the world’s religions and ways of life. In Islam it is stated perfectly in the hadith:
Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “None of you has faith until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 13
This is similar to the Golden Rule, which tells us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
We are created interdependent of each other. After all, humans are the most social of all creatures on earth. From Islam to Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, etc., these religions and way of life teach us to have empathy to others as we would have for ourselves. Basically, we also need to be mindful of ourselves, so that we can give the love we give to ourselves to others.
However, it does not stop at knowing only compassion and all its attributes. Implementation of such is the most crucial part of the journey. How we take action by changing our manners and conduct will not be easy as it is also a human tendency to be selfish. But, it will be a worthwhile ride especially when we see the fruits of our labor of love for one another.
As Abu Bakr AsSiddiq said, “”Without knowledge action is useless, and knowledge without action is futile.”
How do you know that you are compassionate? Perhaps this list can help:
- First of all, you are kind to yourself but not to the point of being selfish.
- You find common grounds with other people, especially on decision-making that affects their lives.
- You love to share what you have – from knowledge to other blessings.
- Money is not a force that can make you do things, empathy and mindfulness do.
- You don’t necessarily blame others for their shortcomings. Instead, you look for ways to make up for mistakes committed.
- Lastly, you are grateful.
It does not take a lot of effort to be compassionate if we only allow ourselves to look more outwardly.
Adding meaning to everything we do is our goal as a person. And, there couldn’t be a more meaningful life than knowing that we live not only for ourselves but for others, too.
Here’s a TED talk by Joan Halifax that tackles on compassion and empathy.
Here’s to a more compassionate you and me for a better world!