Thurgood Marshall said, “The measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis.” Yet what I’ve experienced in the last months and perhaps years is an eroding of compassion and care for others. So many are getting annoyed with others, some acting out in ways that are harsh and harmful. This preponderance of disregard for other’s human frailties is hurtful to all of us.
I am not immune to a general sense of annoyance for people that aren’t mindful of others. After having a negative emotional reaction I spend time and effort to bring caring kindness to myself and work on having compassion for those who bother me the most. It’s an imperfect process. Nonetheless I find it helpful.
The pandemic, plus many social and financial inequities have left us feeling burdened. And when we look for support, it can be hard to come by since many of us are among others who also feel burdened.
I don’t know that there is a perfect solution, though I wish there was. What I do know is that the more vulnerable to others’ ire I feel, the less I have access to inner resources that help me get through tough times. Therefore, having patience with myself, doing my best to be thoughtful to others, and staying connected with and expressing compassion help me get through my days, especially when I encounter insensitivity from others.
Perhaps this is the time we can move from a disheartening crisis of callousness to bring forth a much-needed time of compassion.
- Try the RAIN (Recognize, Acknowledge, Investigate, Non-Identity) mindfulness practice. You can find it on Tara Brach’s site, or at Mindful.org
- Practice loving-kindness meditation. You can find it at SharonSalzberg.com, YouTube or at Mindful.org
- When you have the thought, “What’s wrong with me?” or What’s wrong with you?” Rather than answering that question which has negative implications, ask, “What is happening now?” or, “What am I experiencing?” These questions open up an inquiry, and are gentler when things are difficult.