“The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.”

— Thomas Merton

Compassion, “feeling with,” is a rare commodity in our world.  It recognizes the oneness and equality of all and wraps itself around each of our fellow creatures, acknowledging our dependence on them and their dependence on us.  Too often we confuse compassion with pity, a lesser emotion that elevates the status of one party over another and stoops low to the level of the one in need.  Pity sees us as imbalanced and in a sort of parasite/host relationship with the rest of creation.  Rather than restoring balance, pity has us leaning sideways and balancing on one leg in order to pretend that we are aligned with others, when the truth is that we enjoy feeling superior.  Pity is like the sort of cold charity that is given out of duty.  It allows us to feel involved in the pain of another without becoming truly invested; and it rarely does more than scratch the surface of need.

Compassion springs from the heart.  It raises up another being whose balance needs to be restored.  It doesn’t stop until the giver and the receiver are on an equal plane where each can see clearly how much we depend on one another for survival, and more importantly, for our humanity.  We know that our bodies are made up of different sorts of cells that work together to create the beauty of life.  In the same way, we must remember that all living beings who share our planet are cells in a huge organism called Creation.  We must care for all living beings in order to insure the survival of each individual.

Let’s open our hearts and let the love flow to all creatures who share our world.  Let us open our understanding to the idea that no individual being — not even me — is more important or more necessary than another.  Let us care for all the cells in the organism that is much bigger than any one of its components.  Let us feel with all and know that we are all connected by the wisdom that called us to exist.  Listen to the voice of Creation, it calls us to compassion.