Wednesday, September 12, 2007
It's late and I'm just back from my poetry workshop group. There are six of us poets, each with a completely different style from the other, different voice, different subjects. This works well as we each come to the groups with incredibly different perspectives and opinions, and yet, somehow we all mesh, we all connect, and we all help and support each other.
A friend of mine brought a poem that referred to someone currently in the news who people are not talking nicely about. You can try to guess who this person is or isn't. But as I write this, I realize this could be anyone in the media from Hillary to Britney Spears, from Bill Clinton to ____________ (fill in the blank), American media loves to bash, to insult, to point out flaws, mistakes, etc. etc. And I'm guilty of it too. I've been known to have little tolerance for PopStar X or Heartthrob Y. But what made this poem stand out was how it showed compassion in surprising ways, compassion to a person few have compassion for.
It's easy to judge others, in fact, sometimes it comes too easy. Once on New Year's we all made resolutions not to judge others and had a contest to see who could last the longest. I made it to 12:01. It was shocking really as I had always considered myself as someone who was pretty open-minded and non-judgmental.
So I'm thinking about compassion tonight and how I can offer it to others--people I know or don't know, strangers on the street, people in my family. I'm thinking about how as humans we can try to understand that some of our worst behavior comes out of pain and that what we dislike most in others can be something we dislike in ourselves.
It's amazing what a poem can do. It reminded me how connected we all are. There is no "them" and "us," just us. All of us. In this together. Trying our best.
1) a deep awareness of and sympathy for another's suffering
2) the humane quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to do something about it
So, my extra credit questions to take with you into your day are--
Whose life are you going change today?
What's one compassionate act you can do today?
Written by Kelli Russell Agodon