Compassionate Actions

“All change, even very large and powerful change, begins when a few people start talking with one another about something they care about.”

~Margaret J. Wheatley

It has to start with ourselves. Watching or listening to the news can be so discouraging, leaving me and possibly you asking what can be done? And we all know the answer: plenty!

There’s a reason I opened with this photo. If there were ever a natural disaster that struck the High Desert, the first action I’d take would be to ensure the safety of my two Black Labs. Period. They’re that valuable to me. Yet when nature casts her wrath, people lose not only what they most treasure but sometimes, everything.

Most of us consider ourselves to be compassionate. A dictionary defines compassion as the “sorrow for suffering of others,” and “the urge to help.” While this definition identifies compassion as feeling or desire, I am convinced that being truly compassionate is found more in the actions that result from those feelings – compassionate actions.

Compassionate actions begin with the love we have for ourselves and for others. It manifests itself in our kindness, patience, and willingness to act to relieve the pain of others. It also manifests in the empathy we feel for others and their experiences or conditions.

We can know if we are expressing truly compassionate action by two characteristics: The first is the detachment from the results of our actions. You and I act because action is needed from our connection to other human beings and our sense of the value of that connection. We act from compassion without a desire for recognition or appreciation for our actions.

The second characteristic is to extend to all, regardless of race, religion, culture or status. True compassion responds to the suffering condition wherever and to whomever it is occurring. It doesn’t have preconditions.

Compassionate actions challenge us to be human beings first. These actions provide us the opportunity to experience human connection while providing a perspective on life and clarifying what matters most or ought to matter most. This isn’t about common volunteering, everyday generosity or doing a daily kind deed. This is rooted in who we are at our core and what we automatically do when others are in need.

You don’t need a “S” on your chest.

Two questions to consider: Family members aside, what is the first “thing” you’d rush to save in a natural or man-made disaster and; When was the last time you performed noteworthy compassionate action?

6 thoughts on “Compassionate Actions

  1. Eric, the compassion within me is a reflection of the heart of God. His mercy manifests through me so strongly that compassion is a natural reaction to what I see in the heart of another. In answer to your question … it is the first living thing before me. Thanks for the great post!

  2. Thank you! I feel one of my lessons in this life, a big one too is to learn how to be compassionate. I used to have empathy…no, let me correct that. I do have empathy. I take it as a gift. However, due to what I have experienced, I think I’ve closed that part of myself, though I am learning to reopen it again.
    But compassion comes hard for me and the reason I think could be two fold. One that I don’t feel I have compassion even to myself and the second is that I, for some reason or the other feel that humans in general can be complete morons! LOL.
    This post has actually given me an answer that I have been looking for, and that is “what is compassion”…and I agree, I feel that compassionate action is going to be the way for me..more so than just sitting and feeling compassion.

  3. I have been around some amazing compassionate people on the planet. They have taught me well. I can say I have mostly friends that are of compassionate nature. I’ve come a long way baby. 🙂 It speaks straight to my heart.

    • Love the acknowledgment that you’ve “come a long way baby.” Think of how much more is yet to come, especially when your heart is invested and involved. Thanks, Shree, for sharing your personal experience.

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