Compassion

Compassion: (n) sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

There has to be some suffering brought on by misfortune before concern is expressed–otherwise, there’s a danger of casting your pearls before pigs.

What we often refer to as compassion is really pity. And pity is an emotion that does no good for either side.

Those who are pitied are weakened, and those who pity feel too much superiority for it to be of much personal good.

It reminds me of a snowy day when I saw a little boy trying to climb a hill with a bag full of groceries. He looked to be about eleven years old, and try as he might,funny wisdom on words that begin with a C every time he climbed the hill, he slipped, and slid back down, spilling the groceries. He patiently put the items back into the bag and tried to ascend again.

This happened four–no, five times.

It was on the fourth time that I noted his determination, even though there were the beginning signs of exasperation, as he punched his fist into the snow upon rising.

I did not intervene at first. I waited to see if he would persevere. I paused to give him a chance to succeed.

I let him struggle.

Then I went out and assisted him, and we made it up the hill together, slipping and sliding.

I’ve made many mistakes in my life by thinking I was being compassionate to people who just did not feel it was necessary for them to put forth effort. I was always left holding the bag, feeling great disappointment.

Compassion occurs when you realize people have tried almost everything they could think of to solve their problem, are still pursuing it and could sure use encouragement and a helping hand.

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Barker

Barker: (n) a person who stands in front of a theater or sideshow and calls out to passersby to attract customers.Dictionary B

The two problems with self-promotion are that they contain a pair of dangerous concepts:

First, self. And second, promoting.

Combined, they create the nervous energy we all feel when people are thrusting themselves into the role of “barker,” to make us aware of what they consider to be a needful idea or product.

Basically, in our age most of the forms of communication are all about “barkers.”

Politics is full of barkers. Supposedly, the more you push, advertise, criticize and self-aggrandize, the better your chance to get a vote. No one stops to ask if this is actually true. It is a foregone conclusion by the pundits that if someone punches you, you should punch back, or if you remain silent too long or simply state your beliefs, you will be overthrown by the mass hysteria of those who generate a mob.

I was always a little uncomfortable with the idea of the evangelizing associated with Christianity. Because even though salvation is promised in the religious community, we first find ourselves barking at people, telling them how evil and destitute they are before we grant them the package of eternal life.

Of course, social media is nothing more than a bunch of technological barkers.

  • “Look at my beautiful this…”
  • “Check out my kid picking his nose, but in his case it’s cute…”
  • “I just got promoted and bought a new car, so don’t you see how much better my life is than your mediocre one?”

Is it possible to quietly succeed?

Is there a path that takes us to heaven without a marching band?

And is there a way to enrich the lives of your brothers and sisters in the world without startling them with your approach?

If there is, I will seek to find it.

And if it is not possible, I will still refrain from being a barker … and quietly walk away into gentle and blissful obscurity. 

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Apt

dictionary with letter A

Apt (adj): 1. appropriate under the circumstances 2. a tendency to do something.

At the risk of coming off like a Gloomy Gus or Grumpy Grady, I will tell you that I yearn for a simpler time when people’s functions, goals and even occupations led you to believe that certain attributes or virtues just might be included.

Yes, I think that a grocer should be apt to courtesy and warmth, and gregarious. I really don’t want him or her thinking about their stock portfolio, but instead, greatly concerned about the freshness of my tomatoes.

I think a politician should be apt to be nearly boring, insisting on discussing the issues pertinent to the constituency, instead of overly zealous about hand-pumping, baby-kissing and making deals with lobbyists.

It would be wonderful if ministers were pre-disposed to practice what they preach instead of merely preaching what they practice, hoping that somewhere along the line “it’ll all work out.”

I think musicians should be thrilled that someone wants to pay them a dollar to do what they love instead of finding ways to act like the craft of making music is deadly and painful.

I am apt to be a writer from time to time–and I certainly do not want to bore you with my process, nor lead you to believe that my writer’s block lands on me, crushing my bones.

Finding peace with oneself is a two-fold process:

  1. Discover something you like to do.
  2. Keep liking it.

If we actually did this in our country … we just might be apt to succeed. 

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