Compassion doesn’t only come from within, by Brittany Curry
Monday 21 December 2015, by
My journey all began as a personal investigation. I noticed how many of my thoughts revolved in orbit around myself and how often my social trade-offs were more about getting than giving.
For example, I live on a planet where 30,000 kids die in poverty each day while I obsess over calories.
I wanted to know what it would take to overcome that “it’s all about me” way of being (which I am convinced ruins everything), to sweeten my tongue, modify my jealous mind and think of other people first, just to see what happens.
It felt as if I’d been waiting for a signal, a green light to step onto the crosswalk to the opposite curb or some drive to be compassionate not out of the blind craving for virtue, but because it seemed like the only genuinely interesting thing to do with my life.
I so often assumed life was about magnifying myself (for the greater good, of course), but, after finding my green light, what began as a personal investigation became an experience of a lifetime. I came to realize I was using the wrong end of the telescope and it made everyone else look small.
Recently, I chose to travel to Nepal with two nursing professors and a group of nursing students to promote health within the Kathmandu Valley.
During this international experience, we engaged in extensive teaching, especially in the Himalayan Mountains, where we worked alongside an American mobile outreach group to offer health promotion and prevention activities that were culturally sensitive and based on client-identified needs.
To say the least, this experience was challenging. I truly learned a great deal about cultural relativism and sensitivity, which reinforced my passion for the rich contextual nature of compassion.
While hiking in the Himalayans, I was told by a Buddhist monk that everyone possessed some worth – past quantifying or qualifying – some value beyond judgement or fine-tuning and that included oneself.
Naturally, it is hard to strike a balance. If I am not for myself, who will be? But if I am only for myself, what am I?
There is a growing sense in our society that the balance has been sleepily tipped, that our obsession with flawless self-contentment closed off our caring.
Our cultural default setting is to get your own needs met. It made me wonder what sort of selfhood we’re seeking: the self that gets its needs met but is never fulfilled, or the self that gives abundantly yet is never empty?
I learned compassion isn’t simply opening up your heart and coating everything in a sweet, all-purpose slime. It calls for appreciating not only what comforts us, but what pierces us.
Compassion comes from the Latin meaning “to suffer with.” Doing so, I stopped thinking so much about how others had let me down, broken my heart, failed to anticipate my needs and take my oh-so unique sensitivities into account.
I began striving to see – and even nourish – other people’s possibilities.
We have all been given a pair of magic glasses with lenses that see only the good in people. If only we could just remember to put them on, we might just be a little bit more compassionate. It’s worth a shot.
Brittany Curry is a fourth-year bachelor of science in nursing student at Vancouver Island University.
Author : Brittany Curry
Source : www.bclocalnews.com