Thursday, February 10, 2011

Not just for the Hallmark card-

Written on Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 4:47pm

It's brutal. Ugly. Desperate. It's made up of all the things that make us question. How can they not? At least for me, times like these ramp up my communication with God. I plead on behalf of the people. I ask Him to make himself known in the devastation. To bring something . . . anything from heaven to earth.

And then I am confronted and reminded of the relative indifference of the masses. My heart breaks when I see people acknowledge what has happened in Haiti but that's where it ends. A brief moment of empathy, if it even qualifies, and then on with their life. A turn of the channel is enough to make the images disappear. Out of sight; out of mind. God forgive us!

But that implies what is wrong with the bigger picture. We are a world that may feel empathy for our fellow man but it rarely turns into true sympathy which then yields compassion; where real change occurs. Below are the definitions. Which best defines how you feel when confronted with a situation on a grand scale like Haiti, forget everyday problems?

empathy-the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another

sympathy- harmony of or agreement in feeling, as between persons or on the part of one person with respect to another

compassion- sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it

It's no wonder that Americans often can't feel much past empathy because we don't have the sense of being connected to each other. Just as the definition states, to feel true sympathy you must move from intellectually understanding a situation to sharing the pain with those in the situation. We are isolated from each other and make choices which best suit ourselves which turns our hearts cold. And because our lives aren't interwoven enough to share/deal with life's troubles in a sympathetic manner, compassion is just left for Hallmark cards- it's tossed around but not understood.

So when something like Haiti happens, we can move on in 24 hours.

Cultivate compassion-

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