A Compassionate Light Takes Action
As humans we can be quite selfish, wanting what we want when we want it no matter the implications our selfish behavior has on others.
Would if we decided to untie our shoes and replace them with someone else’s shoes...would we then express compassion for others suffering?
A few years back I found an activity by a teacher who would have her students take their shoes off and place them in a pile in the middle of the room. Each child was responsible for going to the pile and picking out a pair of shoes that was not their pair. All of the students were asked to make a circle and place their new shoes in front of them.
I started using this activity with my students as well as professionals in various leadership workshops. Once everyone is in the circle with their new shoes, I state, “now you have a new pair of shoes, these are the only shoes you have access to for the entire year.”
I begin to receive reactions such as...
“These will be to tight, I’ll get blisters.”
“If it’s cold these shoes won’t keep my feet warm”
“These shoes have heels, how can I walk in these all day everyday for a year, my legs and feet will hurt.”
“Umm, this isn’t my style.”
“Wait, they are huge, I’ll be dragging my feet to keep them on.”
Have you ever thought what it might be like to wear someone else’s shoes?
The outsider looking in might say, what’s the big deal everyone got a pair of shoes?
But do the shoes they receive meet their needs or am I only thinking well my shoes feel great and they got shoes so what’s the big deal.
Well, okay we can say that everyone is equal because each individual got a pair of shoes but we have to ask ourself are we exhibiting equity, are we showing compassion for those who are suffering because they have shoes that don’t meet their specific needs.
Merriam - Webster’s Dictionary defines compassion as a sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.
If there is a desire to alleviate the distress of others then to be compassionate one must take action.
So if we know someone’s shoes don’t fit (they are distressed) be it our parents, children, significant other, friends, colleagues or strangers, what responsibility to act do we have to alleviate it?
Consider for a few days your own moments of selfishness and how you might place yourself in someone else’s situation.
How might you demonstrate compassion to the individual who is suffering?
“When we sign up for compassion, we’re going to have homework.” - Anonymous