Compassion: Is There An App For That??
I'm sure you despair like I do over whether we humans will survive the next century. Can we shift our consciousness and create a compassionate civilization? Can we expand our capacity for empathy and become a compassionate global community working together to save our shared biosphere?
I think so! We are soft wired for compassion.
I know this to be true through my work at the Haven Institute. Time and again complete strangers come with the devastation, confusion and hopelessness they experience in their lives and within a very short period, they find space in their hearts to compassionately relate and support one another.
Yet this heart opening is a choice and one we often don't make. If our ego feels threatened, we all can recount times we have easily ignored our innate capacity for compassion. It's well documented in our daily newspaper. The latest conflict usually involves each side righteously focused on their version of the "truth" and their conviction the other side must change. Sound familiar?
That these polarized positions might benefit from some compassion does not form part of the story. A standoff is the status quo as each side hopes to prevail while the other is vanquished. We don't give consideration to understanding how we limit our perspective when we enter into the process of making enemies. We become bit players in a 1950s war movie where the bad guys are given bad names that evoke characteristics sure to frighten our ego. The annihilation of the other becomes easily justified in the face of such simplistic thinking. We ignore our capacity for compassion and remain focused on strategies and right/wrong thinking. We don't ask ourselves if we are ignoring certain 'facts' or zeroing in on others that stimulate justifications for our world view. We don't even entertain the thought that things we reject in other people might be inside of us too.
Is there hope? I think so.
Our consciousness is deeply impacted by the fictions we create about how our world works. And these are changing rapidly. And the pace we can shift our values and beliefs is also escalating. I just look at my grandchildren to see the impact their technological 'toys' are having on how they relate to the world. Their perspective is a world away from the one I remember as a child and is science fiction for my parents.
My optimism for our survival is based on our capacity for compassion and our ability to learn and adapt. This linked with increasing pressure to recognize how we are recklessly impacting our shared global home is our best chance for survival. I'm sure you would agree there is nothing so focusing as the problem being in our face no matter which way we turn.
I am also hopeful because we have many more tools available today for developing inner awareness and compassion. We want to expand access to inner essentials we believe we all need to live a full and rich life.
And no, there's no quick and easy app for compassion.
But we can get busy creating "compassion warriors" - those who can join us in helping others shift to a more inclusive and relational way of dealing with the changes we must make for a sustainable future.