Because these external events are extraordinary, they often induce extraordinary responses and emotions in us. Being unaccustomed to dealing with feelings like helplessness, anger, discouragement, and even hatred, we can easily become frantic in our search for an outlet for these negative energies. This is a time when compassion for both ourselves and others can turn the tide on these feelings of despair.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
Compassion, to me, requires us to circumvent the thoughts we use to justify our negative feelings. Once we release that crutch, we can view the world through our hearts, which is where we find empathy, grace, acceptance, forgiveness and gratitude. It is these qualities that define us as humans. Our humanity blossoms, uniting us by a common thread whenever we act with compassion and kindness. When viewed through the lens of compassion, weakness becomes strength, failure becomes achievement and foreign becomes kindred.
Compassion can take on many guises. It needn't be a grand spectacular gesture. It can be as simple as reaching out a helping hand to a stranger. It can also mean choosing not to engage in a destructive behavior like gossip or blind ambition. It can be found in meditation.
Compassion can be focused on the self or shared in a broader community. It has the ability to infuse our existence with both gentleness and strength.
Let compassion become your new guide. Let it elevate the quality of your life, the lives of those around you, and humanity as a whole. If all the billions of people in the world put just one thought a day toward living their lives with more compassion and kindness, the light of humanity could fill the world and keep the darkness at bay.