Why Should We Choose Compassion Above all Else?

“To thine own self be true and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” William Shakespeare 

Denying ourselves of compassion is being false to ourselves and to humankind. I’ve been reading quite a lot thoughts from the great Dalai Lama on compassion and the human condition. The belief is that compassion and happiness is our natural state. To be anything else other than compassionate is false. Yet, we find ourselves constantly caught in a corner, where our options are to fight or to run. I’ve been wondering lately…why can’t our solutions be compassion and how can we make compassion the easy choice? Too often compassion is seen as weak, as giving up, as not holding those accountable for the negative actions they have taken. But as I watched the movie, “Selma” yesterday on Martin Luther King Jr. Day tears began to fall as I was reminded of the courage of the men and women who stood up in non violent protest during the Civil Rights Movement.

King says, “I have decided to stick with Love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” For Martin Luther King Jr. and countless others love and compassion were the easier choices. They made sense. What has changed? Why must we be false and choose hate? Aren’t we growing tired of bearing this burden? Why is fighting synonymous with violence? I argue that the most powerful way to fight is with love, with empathy.

Nelson Mandela says, “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”  I choose to use quotes from these iconic individuals because honestly I couldn’t think of a better and more vivid way to say it. Choosing light over darkness though seeming like a privilege can be done by all. No matter the circumstances of your life, how different we all may be, what we all have the ability to do is feel and feel compassion at that. It is the natural reaction to seeing pain. So on this MLK Day this year in 2018 I choose to fight with compassion, for others, for myself, and for those who can and those who can’t.

To thine own self shall I be true.

What will you choose?

 

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