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IT ONLY MATTERS THAT YOU HAVE A HEART
Eastern religions hold that god is in everything that surrounds us. A human being, an animal, a rock, even a blade of grass holds the spirit of the divine, for everything created by god represents a part of that god. Therefore to be cruel to another is to hurt oneself, for all things are connected. Compassion is our common ancestor. It reminds us that we should treat others how we ourselves wish to be treated. It’s the gold medal of human attributes and we should all strive for its glory.
We all have differences, be they physical, mental, emotional, permanent or temporary. Each of us feels like we’re lacking in one department or other. Maybe we’re missing a limb or cannot hear; perhaps we need a guide dog to help us cross the road or we cannot leave the house because we’re crippled by anxiety. Others cannot communicate in ways deemed normal. And a good number of us are ‘disabled’ by our own insecurities. We forget that our job is to give the world the best of who we are. For we’re each of us one of a kind, and that kind is humanity.
Compassion, like charity, begins at home.
If you can show the world your own vulnerabilities, you allow others to do likewise, and when walls come down, we recognize our shared humanity. For at the heart of compassion is tolerance. We confront prejudice and injustice by living our lives simply, openly, without fuss or preamble, utilising every single scrap of talent that god gave us, not leaving one flake of it unused, living not as a person with limitations but just as the people we were born to be. You change the world by being yourself. Leading through example challenges others to cast aside their own feelings of inadequacy, showing them to not accept socially-defined limits or be constrained by the opinions of bigots, but to rise up and take on stigma and stereotype. Being yourself and showing the fullness of it encourages other people to become more of who they already are, encourages them to claim every human right for themselves, to enjoy the sacredness of merely being. And in doing so, we make the world an easier, more hospitable, place for future generations.
We need to turn compassion into a proactive adjective, show the world that it should be a relationship between absolute equals. Compassion demands equality and inclusion, not pity or patronisation. It’s rather like JFK’s infamous rallying cry: ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. You shouldn’t wait to see what society can give you, but instead given IT what YOU have to offer, whether that contribution is small or large. Use all of your abilities to shake the world and change it for the better, chipping away at discrimination and condescension. Our differences can unite us as fully as our similarities, for variety enriches life for everyone. And ultimately, it will take all of us, working together, compassionately, equally, to bring about the lasting betterment of humanity.
An ancient Vedic text says, ‘May all beings look at me with a friendly eye, may I do likewise and may we look at each other with the eyes of a friend’. Because until you learn to see the oneness of all existence, you’ll never find the divine truth, nor will you know inner peace. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if you have two legs or no legs, eyes, arms, fingers, toes, voice or hearing; it only matters that you have a heart. And that you use it wisely.
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