Saturday, December 5, 2015

Empathy, Compassion and Action to Improve our World

Today, while listening to the TED radio hour on NPR, the focus was on compassion.The stories demonstrated how media and social media make it so easy to criticize others in 140 characters or, as a general practice, via cable shows that encourage debate involving diatribe, interruption, and lack of respect for others. As I looked for the link, I realized that this must have been a rebroadcast from a year ago, yet, I have not witnessed any improvement.

With all of the shootings, anger, sadness, finger-pointing, and bigotry that seems to be escalating of late, I have been trying to focus on stories and examples of hope, the kind that The TED Radio Hour was trying to encourage. I show my advisees the TED talk by Matt Cutts that encourages us to try something new for 30 days. One can add or subtract a practice to make oneself feel better.

But,we must go beyond ourselves. Yesterday, I came across this simple and important image and despite looking and looking, I cannot find the original source. Nonetheless, I will share it and hope that if the author sees it, s/he will know how much I appreciate it.

This morning, I read this short blog post by Rusul Alrubail.  She posed two powerful questions:
*What if blogging can be used to shed light on important issues and amplify voices of individuals that need to be empowered?
*What if we can use our platform to give an opportunity for someone else to build theirs?

I don't know if "the universe is sending me a message" but I do know that I want to promote hope and not despair, to promote action not surrender. Perhaps, then, these various sources of media can provide hope if we look for it. Here is my 30 day challenge to anyone and everyone who will take it: 

For the next thirty days, make every effort to actively show compassion. Some possibilities:
* Be sure to look a service worker in the eye, ask how s/he is and truly care, and thank him or her;
* Think of those who have less than you and take action to offer some help via a good or service. At this time of year, we seem to focus on what we want for the holidays but, what do others need?;
* Be an upstander, not a bystander - when you see something hurtful and wrong, speak up, stand with those who need support;
* Make friends outside of your circle and truly listen to their stories;
* Respect others' differences, don't tolerate, respect;
*Take responsibility for your actions and growth.

I believe, I truly believe, we can make a positive difference...and here is my deeper hope, that with 30 days of practice, these acts will become infectious habits.