"Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future." - Nelson Mandela
Compassion. What a powerful and impactful word, if only we embraced it fully. You see, it's important to practice self-compassion. We should be forgiving toward ourselves. We should love ourselves and who we are.
We should also be compassionate toward others.
What I cannot seem to understand is how society has forgotten one key, crucial thing: We are all human. And we deserve to be treated with compassion.
That being said, I have been trying to wrap my mind around recent tragedies, including the terrible news from Orlando just one week ago; June 12, 2016 left me numb.
You see, I do not live with the same fear that many of my LGBT brothers and sisters live with. I do not live with the same fear that many of my Muslim brothers and sister live with. But knowing that any of these important people in my life could have been victims at something as tragic as the shooting in Orlando left me speechless.
That fateful day, I pored through the news, trying to uncover the facts. I desperately tried to overlook the Islamophobia, homophobia and racism. I attempted to escape the ignorance and hate speech intertwined with politics, but it all continued to clash with my prayers. At church, I tried to focus, as my priest offered his sympathies. Throughout the day, I was bogged down by the deceptive summer-like heat, imagining a world where my friends and loved ones can truly live in peace.
Now, I ask myself:
When did it be okay to hate a group of people just because of their background, ethnicity, race, or faith?
The truth is, we do not choose what kind of conditions, environment, family or traditions we are born into. What we do choose is how we treat one another. It is crucial that we treat others with compassion, dignity and respect.
I do not know how we will proceed in a country where mass shootings are the norm, and the blame is put on a race, religion or group of innocent people. But if it's the last thing I do, I choose love. I choose to be compassionate.
Here are three steps for how to be compassionate:
1. Listen. Learn about the issues you see in the news and around you. There is so much more to the world than what we each experience on an individual level. We must be cognizant of this. We must be open and nonjudgmental when listening to others. We don't know what others go through on a daily basis unless we are willing to learn from them.
2. Reflect. Imagine what it would be like to walk a mile in another's shoes. Now imagine walking a lifetime in their shoes. What would you experience? How would you handle it? How would you confront stereotypes and assumptions directed toward you?
3. Act. Share what you've learned, and begin to practice a more compassionate lifestyle. Be gracious and generous with whomever you cross paths with. Speak up and call people out who you believe are voicing offensive, derogatory or hateful comments. Let them know it offends you, too. Reach out to others in your community and beyond. Educate them by telling your story and why it matters to you. After all, to stay silent is another form of inaction and complacency.