• Posted: Sep 09, 2012 18:56:59
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I don't know if you can see it or not, but there is an amazing lack of tension in this picture. The people are all relaxed yet totally aware of each other, engaged in the calm ritual of visiting the beach one last time before heading home to the big city where jobs and school are about to restart. The scene is remarkable because, for one thing, such places are becoming harder to find, places not bombarded by advertisements, by annoying so called music and industrial sounds, motorized activity, stench, beggars, crowds, or even the threat of criminal activity or terrorism. Not even a stinging jelly fish, hostile bird, rabid dog, or out of its element bear threatens the tranquility of the place. The people are completely free to concentrate on each other. "Hey mom, what do you think this is?" Or, "Thanks dad, wet laces are the pits." Compassionately paying attention to each other is so very good for growth, so very good for understanding, cooperating with, and appreciating each other. It's what makes societies work, what makes societies fail if it's missing.
But what is compassion? Is understanding an animal well enough to herd it into a corner for slaughter the same thing as compassion? No, not quite. Compassion is understanding that animal well enough to feel its fear and desperation, to appreciate its desire to be free from torment and carry on with its life. Compassion is the ability to see and appreciate the potential for life in that animal, sense its desires and fears, understand its strengths and weaknesses, know its reasons for hungering after things, feel its frustration with barriers to its goals. Compassion wants to cooperate, assist if possible, help to mitigate fear, pain, danger, and discomfort. Compassion doesn't take an accounting, tally up costs and benefits, strategize regarding future returns, or seek to exploit in every way possible. It merely regards the other as an extension of self, a part of one's own being, though perhaps different, with different needs and agendas, capabilities and resources, thoughts and feelings, or even beliefs, but still a legitimate rightful extension of one's own self.
Sure, a diseased or limited mind may not return the favor of compassion. But is that reason to deny compassion can exist, that it offers great benefits amongst those who employ it, including increased health and longevity, shared wealth, wisdom, and resources, that it facilitates cooperation in efforts to renew resources or recover from disaster, or to enlarge and make more frequent peaceful places where compassion can grow and thrive? I think not.
May you always be not far from a peaceful place of compassion. And, may your every effort contribute to its enlargement.
Tuesday, September 4th, 2012
31.6 mm 150 mm