#1000Speak: Be a Foolish, Sucker for Compassion

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”  ― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness    

In 2008 Karen Armstrong received the TED Prize, and made her wish: to restore compassion in a world decimated by 9/11 only 7 years earlier. No sooner did Ms. Armstrong make her wish, the market crashed causing everyone to lose their homes, their jobs, and in the process some hope. A word like ‘compassion’ comes from the Latin loosely translated as ‘with suffering’, and people would think we would bear the suffering together.

Not quite.

It made people hard. Compassion, I have heard, only happens with saints, naïve persons, or ‘suckers’. No doubt somebody will get the idea in their head to emerge as a ‘realist’ to call this day naïve, or the people writing suckers.

Hi, my name is Fatima, and I am a sucker for compassion.

In fact, I don’t see compassion as a choice. One day I went through downtown Winnipeg in a really foul mood. People walking next to me, and by me, proved to look in an equally foul mood. Nobody spoke. I think we looked through one another than at each other. I know I did. I realized something as I looked around, I mean really stopped and looked around at the corner of Donald and Portage. I stopped seeing everyone as human. I saw labels: fat, skinny, poor, well off, hipster, black, white, aboriginal, sober, drunk, high, clean, dirty. That moment scared me more than zombies or dragons. I felt like parts of me turned to stone. I think the nuttiness of this world can do that, as a defense against what we can control.

As Ash Wednesday came and went, I didn’t attend mass this year. In fact, I have not attended for the past few years. I stepped out to clear my head. I felt tired of a checklist of things to look ‘good’. This year I decided to ‘do’. This year’s things to give up, will take the rest of my life not 40 days. It’s things like giving up fear. The compassionate act in the face of fearing looking foolish, in some case losing friends, or even family.

Compassion doesn’t happen on the streets. We need to practice compassion online.

We need to remember a person behind those negative comments can’t take the blinders off for a moment. The fear overwhelms them. Only suckers empathize. Whatever trolls sell, I don’t want to buy. I don’t have to buy. It only seems to work if people circle the drain online arguments make. The other way involves dialogue, but it starts by looking at the other person as a human being. The root of compassion starts with dropping the label to see the person underneath. Only suckers would do that, goes the wisdom. Well, I am sucker.

The next time I found myself on the streets of Winnipeg. I looked at the humanity of the other. Maybe only suckers would do it, but better to be a flesh-and-blood sucker than a stony cynic.


Today’s post is part of the 1000 Voices for Compassion. The mission is pretty simple:

How cool would it be if we could get 1000 bloggers on the same day to write posts about compassion, kindness, support, caring for others, non-judgement etc.?
We could call it 1000 Voices For Compassion.
Who’s in?

Yvonne Spence

Pick me


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