Lessons in Compassion

I’m pretty big on compassion. It drives my political leanings, shapes my world view. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve still got a sarcastic streak a mile wide. But I try to make kindness a driving force in my life. That means being kind, and also striving to surround myself with people who strive for the same.

The second part can be tricky. There are the relatives whose politics make my blood boil. There are the friends who would prefer to feel slighted than give someone the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes, I can step away and feel better. Often, I get grumbly and irritated. How dare they and all that.

Cue the plot twist. In the midst of angsting about one such person, I met with a student. (My day job is in higher ed.) Based on the information and circumstances going into our meeting, I had a very clear idea of who this person was and what they needed to hear. And then they walked into my office and started talking. My understanding and my feelings about this person were turned on their head.

It was a humbling experience. But as is the way with humbling experiences, it was enlightening. There is always room to be more compassionate. Just like the memes say.

So even as I distance myself from people who leave me feeling sad and/or angry, I’m reminded that they’re probably doing their best, too. Even if I can’t be around them, I can think of them with kindness and wish them well.

This is probably a bit philosophical for a Friday. Not to mention sentimental and self-indulgent. I’ll refrain from exhorting you to go forth and be kind. Instead, I’ll thank you for reading this far. That, in itself, is a kindness to me and I am grateful for it.

Funny, smart, and/or sexy thoughts next week. I promise.

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