Compassion seems to be in short supply right now. Maybe it is lost in shipping with the protein powder I ordered a few weeks ago, or out of print like the book of essays I tried to send to a friend. Maybe it is just out of fashion, like bell bottom jeans. I do not know. But, of all the things I miss right now, I miss compassion the most.
When this season of Covid-19 started, I had some hope. Since it didn’t appear to be race specific, or gender specific, or attack those with a specific political ideology, I prayed that people would enlist in one cohesive fight against it. The virus was the common enemy of mankind, and I was hopeful mankind would come together like never before for the common good.
Oh, silly me.
Silly, silly, me.
The one thing we all share in common with this virus is fear. Now, there are some tough guys out there that will tell me that I’m not only wrong, they will also tell me, “You’re $#*$**# full of *$&#&. I ain’t skert of nothin.'” I believe those guys are the most scared, because they don’t even know what they don’t know, and they know it.
The Fear. There are many fears related to Covid-19, but I think there are three main ones. Fear of the virus itself, fear of personal financial or global economic disaster, fear of the loss of personal freedom. I know people in each category. I, myself, spend time in each camp, like only the best people do.
Category 1: Fear of the virus itself. Whether you are afraid of getting sick yourself, or afraid for an elderly parent or a loved one with a chronic disease, this virus is real. People are getting very sick. People are dying. I worried about my father getting this virus until he succumbed to something else. But because of the virus we weren’t able to see visit him in the hospital. Fortunately, we were able to get him out before he passed.
As I write this a good friend is struggling to keep from going completely insane as her husband lays in ICU, his prognosis is grim. She can’t hold his hand and he cannot feel her presence. Would anyone deny compassion to them? You may not believe in the virus, but could you look her in the face and tell her that? It is easier to make a random social media post about “sheeple,” and hope she sees it, right?
Now, my beloved has something going on with his heart, we don’t know exactly what it is, but I fear his exposure and what it might do to him. He is one of those people I cannot live without. So, I’ll do whatever I can do to ensure his safety (inasmuch as he will allow it). Anyone, brave enough to tell me that I’m being ridiculous, can please make that their last comment to me.
You may believe in a lot of things. But do you laugh at a child who puts a newly lost tooth under her pillow or the boy who writes a note to Santa Claus? I certainly hope not. You may not believe in a Creator, but do you throw atheist comments at your neighbor as he leaves to attend church? Please say, “no.”
Category 2: Fear of financial disaster related to the virus. In spite of our government’s best efforts to keep our economy afloat, there will be many casualties. Small businesses are closing every day, some temporarily, some for good. When this is over, the large corporations will be fine, even better than before because their competitors are gone. So, how do you help this? Do you walk into your neighborhood gift shop and give the woman standing behind the counter grief about requiring a mask? If you don’t wear it, her local ordinances may shut her down. If you storm out and post a boycott on social media because of your fear based in category 3, she will lose income, and if all of the people boycott her business, she will have to shut down anyway. Conversely, if her regular customers from category 1 come in and find that she has allowed you to shop unmasked, they will likely leave and never return. This poor woman has no control over any of this, but she’s doing the best she can to stay alive. So, what’s say you show her a little compassion? Put on one of the masks that she has so graciously provided you at the front door. Go ahead and tell yourself it doesn’t do anything to stop the virus, but shut up and show her some compassion, Buy one of the slightly overpriced handmade candles she has made. Let her provide for her family.
Category 3: Fear of losing our personal freedoms. I get it. Once we lose a personal freedoms, we never get it back. Why, white people used to have the freedom to make black people sit at the back of the bus. Now, they don’t get to control who sits where. Men used to be able to gather their friends and stone a woman to death for looking at another man. Now, suddenly, no stoning allowed! They require us to wear a seatbelt so we don’t go flying through the windshield, the bastards. Now, there is this mask thing. I know, I know. Your cousin Cecil wore a seatbelt and it cut the poor $*#&$ in half. He’d be alive today, maybe, if the government hadn’t made it a law. I know, I know. You also know a guy who wore a mask religiously and he still got sick. Except, you don’t believe in the virus so they’re probably just trying to get out of work. All these supposedly sick people just have the flu and the government is telling us it is Covid, right? Honestly, aside from being able to show the gorgeous new lipstick you bought, or spitting Skoal in the cup while grocery shopping, what personal freedoms have been taken from you while you are wearing a mask? Please tell me. I’ll wait.
I’m sorry. That wasn’t very compassionate of me, was it? I hurt your feelings. That doesn’t feel good. Actually, I am very compassion about your fear. I understand that it is based on some kind of experience you have had, or some conditioning you received from your family or peer group. I understand your fear is real. I don’t understand your fear, exactly. But I understand it is real to you. I’m sorry that you are scared, even if you won’t admit it.
Compassion has taken a hit. Instead of using our collective fears to bring us together and fight this thing as a global community, we are allowing it to segregate us based on our category of fear. It isn’t working people. It isn’t working at all.
The Ram Dass quote “We’re all just walking each other home,” speaks to me so much. We are here for others as well as ourselves and when we are in community we are basically just walking each other home. My brother and sister and I walked Daddy home with as much compassion as we could. We did the same with our mother. Those that share their lives with me, are also walking me home, and I am walking them home. Hopefully, it is a long walk. We can take that walk arguing with each other, or listening to each other. I’d rather listen.
What’s say we give compassion a chance? Huh?