Hello, humans! Cal here. I can’t even begin to explain to you all how obsessively I brainstormed and mulled over my inaugural TryBe entry. Compassion is such a central theme to my life, belief system and very core being that I find it hard to stop writing and talking when it’s time to share my thoughts on it.
Compassion is the be-all and end-all of the human experience, the default setting of humanity, the consistent and unwavering acknowledgment of and respect for our shared humanity in all of its many expressions. Compassion is the absolute, resolute, and steadfast recognition of a human being when we encounter one — even in the face of a society that, from early on, hijacks our notions of morality and inundates us with empty concepts by way of the omnipresent “isms” and “phobias.” These things are designed to dehumanize some of us while elevating others and, unfortunately, pervade our contemporary culture and compel so many of us to tacitly and blatantly question or attempt to negotiate the terms of the humanity of our fellow humans.
Under such social circumstances, actualized and focused compassion is necessary and freeing. Compassion is the ability to recognize that, though the goals and specifics of our respective strivings to better and free ourselves differ, our struggles are ultimately linked and structurally similar. It is compassion that fuels us to seek authentic expression of self, not only for ourselves, but for others as well, with the sole condition being that one’s own self-expression not operate at the expense of another person’s. Compassion is a willingness to unlearn and relinquish the many concepts that compel us, knowingly and unknowingly, to work in the service of robbing our fellow human-folk of their autonomy, lives, and livelihood, whether those concepts are presented as long accepted words, terms, ideologies, research, belief systems, cultural codes and cues, traditions, or anything else that upholds the toxic notion of a “normalcy” that sees entire groups of people constantly weighed against it and found “lacking” to some capacity or another. Compassion is understanding that doing these things means doing our vital part as individuals to usher in a new era that sees not only the lives of humans taken out of the margins that they have been placed in, but the complete and utter destruction of those margins themselves.
Compassion is as much fury as it is healing, a hand outstretched in one moment and a clenched fist in the air another.
Compassion is the constant and consistent driving force behind every sincere agent and catalyst for change, and every true quest for humanity’s liberation from ego. It is behind every word Audre Lorde wrote, behind every word James Baldwin spoke, the central lesson of the ancient wisdom-teachers of the East. Compassion is a refusal to — at any time and/or for any reason — reduce any human being to an object or means to an end, as the compassionate soul recognizes such acts as the acts of violence that they are. The truly compassionate soul is never so mesmerized by the prospect of self-gain, be that gain financial or otherwise, that they lose the perspective of their connectedness to another. Compassion is the intentional and focused striving to see to it that the people who are most in need get what it is that they lack; that the weak and exploited are empowered and granted autonomy; a good word spoken to those trapped in the conditioned and habitual mind activity that breeds suffering and disconnects them from being. Compassion is never looking to add to the suffering of another person, instead choosing to minimize it and help show them/her/him a way out of it if possible. Compassion, in itself, entails — contrary to the contemporary societal doctrine and the dominant narratives therein that too often attempt to characterize and portray compassion as bare minimum, superficial pseudo-concern decorated with feel good rhetoric, language, and imagery — a willingness to turn things upside down to set them straight when necessary. Compassion is as much fury as it is healing, a hand outstretched in one moment and a clenched fist in the air another.
For this writer, compassion is, above all else, love in action. It is an always-on understanding of myself as a “me” navigating a world full of other “me”s — human beings who are as invested in having their humanity and autonomy acknowledged and respected as I am in my own. Compassion, for me, is the always-on awareness that I am not here to make life any more difficult for any of my fellow human kin. It is my responsibility to reclaim my mind from the conditioning that would have me do and support harm to others in ways unbeknownst to myself. Because I am compassionate, I do the work, and if you do too, you are TryBe™.