It would be easy to say that there is something fundamentally wrong with society, that humankind today seems to be lacking one universally traded characteristic. The reality is that many people seem to witness but ignore the vast majority of suffering on our streets. Whether humanity is detached or willfully blind, we too often turn a blind eye to avoid the raw emotions of repulsion, grief, or even sympathy. But just like any computer or biological system, mankind is made up of multiple individual parts that work together to form a working whole. That means that trying to solve the issue of how to share compassion does not start with blaming or changing society, but rather looking deep within ourselves as we are the vital mechanisms that are the foundation to a working society. So we must first learn to care, forgive, and understand ourselves in order for each and every working part of humanity to empathetically come together as a whole. Compassion itself is more than just understanding and feeling concern for others in our community, it is fully caring, appreciating, and embracing ourselves for the purpose of embracing others.
For me, this definition of compassion took hold last year at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. At this point in life, we just started quarantine, I was struggling with major anxiety, I couldnít go to work and school, was about to face a break up with my boyfriend, and my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. As an emotional teenager, I held such a negative mindset about myself and my circumstances that led to pointless fights with my parents and a lack of compassion for anyone or anything. One afternoon, I distinctly remember sitting in my room, surrounded by a cloud of anger, disappointment, and sadness when my mom weakly came in and just sat next to me. She hugged me and listened to me cry. She didnít care that I was angry, she didnít care that I had been throwing useless fits at the family, she cared that I was hurting. My mom was facing a cancerous battle of her own, but she understood the pain that everyone experiences and chose to embrace her daughter. Instead of focusing on her own challenges, or even being disappointed in me for placing more burdens of herself and the family, she gave me a shoulder to cry on. This moment showed me that compassion can allow us to abandon our own selfish mindsets and embrace the emotions of others. From that day, I focused on bettering myself, to understand that I may experience hard trials but I can appreciate that pain for the purpose of understanding and loving others. I like to use this experience to connect with friends, students, and co-workers and show them they are not alone, that they can conquer their pain by embracing and understanding themselves.
When you learn to embrace yourself, you show compassion to others. This, inturn, changes one broken piece into a fully functioning mechanism that works with other broken pieces to improve the foundation of society. Itís thanks to the compassion my mom showed, by forgetting her pain from cancer to understand others, that I understand we can compassionately improve the lives of others. It is a universal truth that our actions influence lives, so it is vital to take our experiences and dedicate them to transoming a better version of someone else, whether it be someone on the streets or in our own family. By doing so, not only can my parents and I show compassion to one another, but our world can share and embrace the most valuable lesson of human growth, compassion.