Compassion 

  1. compassion
    kəmˈpaʃ(ə)n/
    noun
    1. sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
      “the victims should be treated with compassion”
      synonyms: pitysympathyfeelingfellow feelingempathyunderstandingcareconcernsolicitude, solicitousness, sensitivity, tender-heartedness, soft-heartedness, warm-heartedness, warmthlovebrotherly lovetenderness, gentleness, mercy, mercifulness, leniency, lenience, toleranceconsiderationkindnesshumanity, humaneness, kind-heartedness, charitybenevolence

       

       

      “she gazed with compassion at the two dejected figures”

       

    cernsolicitude, solicitousness, sensitivity, tender-heartedness, soft-heartedness, warm-heartedness, warmthlovebrotherly lovetenderness, gentleness, mercy, mercifulness, leniency, lenience, toleranceconsiderationkindnesshumanity, humaneness, kind-heartedness, charitybenevolence

     

     

    “she gazed with compassion at the two dejected figures”

     

This wasn’t a word that I used to think of, let alone use, until recent years. Now it’s a word and an action that has come to the forefront of my being.

During recent months, or even years, I’ve noticed a bigger divide between the compassionate and those lacking any compassion whatsoever. I can understand a flippant remark that comes from a busy life with no malice intended. That can often be questioned and when given thought and time can be revalued.

There is however a surge of judgemental accusations inspired by anger and even jealousy.

I only saw today an article about a woman with an invisible disability ( Fibromyalgia) , who had parked in a disabled bay at her local supermarket as she was in pain and with her young son. Concerned she wouldn’t make it around the supermarket if she parked in a normal space, with the added distance, and as there were plenty of empty disabled bays, she took one.

On returning to their car her young son found a hand written note placed on the windscreen saying that ‘being fat and ugly doesn’t make you disabled’ .

Can you, just for a moment, imagine her son’s shock at finding such a letter referring to his mother? Then, how would any mother explain such an action to their child?

Of course, technically she was in the wrong. As she was still in the process of applying for a Blue Badge which would allow her to park in the disabled bay. This is where compassion should kick in. I often think of people who’ve just been released from hospital following an operation, still fragile and wobbly on their feet and yet there is no ‘convalescence ‘ badge. Although it is temporary, it does mean that these people are dependant on family and friends, or even the kindness of strangers, to carry on their daily business.

As a society we seem to expect the disabled to at least look disabled. Anyone dressed smartly, walking around or, God forbid, looking happy, has no right to be using a disabled bay, even if they have the blue badge.

I heard someone talking about ‘benefit scroungers’ and their glee when a man was ‘found out’ after being seen refereeing a kids Sunday football match. At the time I was stunned but soon thought about that poor man. Imagine having a condition leaving you in constant pain where you’ve been unable to hold down a job and support your family. Imagine that man getting dressed every morning to show his kids he had pride and to make their life as normal as possible? Then his son’s football team need a referee for their Sunday matches. The other boy’s Dad’s are busy working all week ( or are absent) and can’t give up their time. Is it wrong that this man does this couple of hours of ‘normality’ to help his son and the local kids? Who knows what after effects that man would suffer following his activity. He could be spending a day or three in bed to recover.

It’s akin to saying that anyone grieving should be wearing black, forever, and only seen crying.

Do we, as a society, not have the compassion to allow our sick some respite?

Of course my thoughts are based on supposition, as were the comments from the original teller of the story. Maybe he was a genuine benefits scrounger, sat at home watching TV all week, supporting his family on the actually pitiful incapacity benefits he would be eligible for. Either way, does it matter? Is it our concern if his children grow up to admire him for doing his best or despise him for keeping them in a state of poverty when he could have improved his own and their lives?

In this day and age, unfortunately, the difference between supporting your family successfully from working, or living on benefits has shrunk making that area of ‘convalescence ‘ an expensive and fearful place to be.

If our Sunday referee was starting to feel stronger and his weekend activities were a stepping stone to returning to work, who are we to ‘tell tales’ forcing him to loose all his benefits, putting him and his family in a very stressful situation.

I really hope that we can be living in a country where we can support our weak. No one should be living in fear of being judged. To claim a disability benefit of any kind these days is time consuming, exhausting and degrading. Decisions take not weeks but months and before you even begin you have to have proof of being unable to work or be sick for at least six months. How many of us have found a day of work feeling sick, frustrating due to an illness?

Maybe as part of educating our young, we should all have a compulsory month in a wheelchair, or lying in bed, or even walking a mile in another man’s shoes.

Today is our General Election, I do hope that people’s choices have an element of compassion. I like to think that we as a nation can put the good of the whole ahead of our own selfish needs. A tax break here or there compared to food and shelter for someone less fortunate than ourselves.

The master of compassion is His Holiness the Dalai Lama, just for a moment, think what he would say or do given the choices you are today.

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