How Compassionate and Loving Are You?
By Jacquie Wise
In the month of Valentine’s Day, there’s plenty of inspiration about how we express love to someone special. But being a loving person extends way beyond that. We all like to believe we’re compassionate, kind and loving people. How can we tell? Aside from popular, meaningless quizzes, that is. Here’s another thought: if you want to attract love into your life, you need to begin by being a loving person yourself.
image- holding hands
Someone said something to me recently, which gave me pause to think. Actually, it shocked me. We were walking down a busy city street, passing several very dejected-looking homeless people huddled on the pavement, with their cardboard signs and upturned hats.
I was about to donate something to one of them when my companion stopped me. She said, ‘Don’t you know it’s fake. People dress up like a homeless person, put up a plaque with some sob story and they take your money.’
Wow. That’s harsh. It took me a moment to absorb that statement and what it revealed about her.
Maybe, just maybe, there’s the odd one who is faking. Even then, there’s no way this is easy money. And in any case, do you really want to take the chance? This person you’re passing right now might be genuinely in a desperate situation. Would you want this to be you?
Imagine being huddled on cold, hard cement paving in the rain, in the cold, battling with the cold despair in your heart as you battle with the cold of the weather and the coldness of people who pass you without so much as a second glance. With only hope to keep you warm.
And yes, I’m repeating the word ‘cold’ intentionally, as I reflect on, not only how cold these people’s lives are, but also on how cold we allow ourselves to become.
There we are, with our designer shoes and designer café lattes, reluctant to part with a few coins we won’t even miss. Not even making eye contact with these people, who might so easily be your cousin, or an acquaintance who’s fallen on hard times.
We pass them by without looking them in the eye. Or I’ve noticed people intentionally looking away. Why do we pretend not to notice them? Because we feel guilty not giving something? Because we don’t want to face their reality? Because we don’t want to face who we really are?
Of course, we can’t afford to donate to every single person we pass.
And yet, here’s the thing. I’m not as compassionate and generous as I like to think I am. A couple of times, I’ve noticed something else in the streets that has stopped me in my tracks.
The first time I saw someone crouch down and talk to a homeless person, I thought it might be someone from the Salvation Army or something. When I saw another, and then another person pausing to chat, I realised, these were ordinary people, just like you and me. And yet, what made them extraordinary was that they actually stopped. They showed interest in the person’s story. They gave their respect and caring. They gave a few warm words, or a joke, bringing a smile to a despaired face. They were truly compassionate.
And here’s what really shocked me. I’ve never done that. I’ve never stopped and got down to their level to talk to them. Oh sure, I’ve wished them luck, as I’ve dropped coins into their hat, I’ve said I hoped things would get better for them, but I’ve never actually stopped to talk to them.
As we observe someone else doing something truly meaningful, it’s an opportunity to reflect on who we are. And who we want to be.
I was about to throw away yet another advertising flyer asking for support for a school-kid to be able to buy basics, like school books. I fished it out of the bin again.
This is not who I choose to be.
There’s a lot of talk about how we’d like to make our world a better place. Is it all talk? Being a compassionate person requires us to care enough to intentionally do something caring and nurturing.
The place to start might be as simple as pausing to bring a smile onto someone’s face.
I’d be interested in your views. Please share your comments, questions or inspirations: contact me directly.
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