(SeLoFest17 Post: Day 11, click here for all prompts so far)
Yesterday, we discussed acknowledging the Other both within us and outside. Today’s reflection is about practicing compassion towards the side of us that may have shown racism and ignorance. Sometimes we hide those aspects of ourselves, we deny them, reject them, pretend they don’t exist. But within us, they fester and come out in indirect ways, most of the time, resulting in self-loathing or rejecting a part of yourself and thus never achieving the feeling of fulfillment.
What might it look like to support someone we don’t know at all? What might it feel like to show compassion to someone we do not recognize?
Sometimes, we want to show compassion, we want to fight, we want to heal, we want to empathize, but we barely have any energy to take care of ourselves, or rather we are way too busy with trying to provide for a family to also extend ourselves out to the world.
However, by not acknowledging the “negative”, and the “ugly” of life, we are ignoring the yin and yang, the what-comes-up-must-come-down, the balance of all. Hiding away from our flaws or the pain in the world does not help us or humanity. It hinders us, lulls us into a false sense of joy, but keeps us limited and ignorant. There are many people that feel like they don’t want to (or can’t) experience pain, and rather hide. They think they’re better off ignoring.
Short term, perhaps. But no matter how good things are when you’re ignoring life, they are so much better when you learn your strength in being able to handle things. What happens if you begin climbing the age ladder of being in your 60’s-70’s and perhaps your body isn’t what it used to be, or you reach your 80’s and you feel out of touch with those around you? When you’re at the age where your friends are reaching the end of their life? What happens when you are forced to face the decisions you didn’t make in your own life? Faced with mortality and new ways of enjoying life? What happens when you come to a place where you have less distractions, and all there is to do is be with yourself? I have been close to people that are old not because of their age but because of their mentality. They feel their body is stuck, they feel their mind is stuck, and all they do is blame everything on everyone else and every other circumstance. They never once look at themselves, at the flaws they have, at what they could still change…they’re miserable, alone, disappointed, and it is no fun being around this person.
So instead of waiting around until we are mentally too old to feel like we can still grow, how about spending that youthful wisdom on knowing You’re Never Too Old?
The Prompt: Step outside your comfort zone, think about someone that is maybe completely unlike you and is within a marginalized group. Are you a woman? Good, did you know that there are SO MANY women that need your support and that begins by acknowledging their existence? Are you able-bodied? Good, have you ever stopped to think about people who are disabled? How they are viewed as people who we should pity? That isn’t very empowering. Are you a man? Good, have you ever stopped to think about transgender men? Or what it might feel like to be an intersex person? Do you have children? Good, have you thought about all those refugee children that are now starving and dying?
Activity: Open your heart and think about something you’ve heard about before many times but sort of ignored because it “didn’t apply to you”. It could be something like autism, prostate cancer, depression, sex mutilation, homosexuals in Russia, or literally anything else that might have showed up in your Facebook feed, but something that has NOT affected you personally in any way. Study it, take a few minutes to google it, maybe look for a facebook group or a speaker, find out things about it, and then create a piece of art that is meant to raise awareness and teach others of this cause that you have decided to look more into. TedTalks are a good place to get great information in a 20 minute video that’ll get you started and usually, caring.
In your journal: Create a piece of Artivism, and write down a few words about why you chose this specific matter, and how it affects you. Make it real, if you can’t authentically answer ‘why should people care about this matter?’ then you aren’t moved. Learn about someone else, and make it your business to practice compassion.