Life in progress


#SoCS – Compassion

How do we draw the line on compassion? Most of us have it, to some degree or another. It begins with learning how to share, in our toddler years. Which is probably one of the reasons those of us who lack it tend to bring up children who lack it too. Does it begin with consumerism? With the idea that if we work hard for something, it’s ours? Perhaps.

Where do we draw the line on who we’re willing to share with? We have compassion, naturally, for our family and friends. For those we care about who we have met. But how about the strangers we pass every day on the street? How about people who are marginalized and bullied… by even some of our governments? From the outside looking in, it seems to me there are two types of people – those who believe they and they alone are entitled to what they’ve worked for, and those who reach out and go to great lengths to help everyone. Or at least anyone they encounter.  Of course there are those of us who only wish we could save the world, and would if we had the resources.

I went in to a Tim Horton’s today for a bite to eat. Outside, there was a woman sitting with her back against the wall with a sign that read “Broke and Hungry.” She asked me as I walked in the door if I had any change. I told her I didn’t – it was the truth. I keep my change at home, saved for Alex’s bus rides. While I was sitting in the restaurant, the staff went outside and told her to leave. I didn’t think that was very fair.

I see people begging for money online all the time. Sometimes for money to save their lives, sometimes for things they simply want. I saw someone trying to raise $6,000 the other day so they could publish their book. I wanted to shake them and tell them there’s someone trying to scam you… do it yourself for free. And there are people out there with their tin cups… really, what’s the difference? One is braving the harsh weather, the other is using a device likely worth more than the outdoor beggar could hope for in a month. Yet who are we more likely to give our money to? Somehow, $5 on Paypal seems less than a dollar in cash, doesn’t it?

Does our compassion need to be clean? Do we find our sharing only worthy of going to those who can ask most eloquently… those who spend the most time in our faces?

Are we more likely to share with those who we have things in common? Yes? Why? How do we draw the line, when we consider everyone to be equal in our humanity? We all deserve to live. We all deserve what we work hard for. Yet sharing and compassion is what separates us from animals. It’s what makes us human.

Giving feels good. So give. I challenge you. No matter how.


This challenging post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Check it out!