The Compassion Reflex

You’re walking in a park and a kid on a bike passes you at high speed. Then he attempts a sharp and sudden turn but there is cut grass on the pavement and his tires slide…

And down he goes. Hard.

What do you do?

Was there thought involved? In that first instant? No. You acted on reflex. And you would do it every time. You’d rush to help, while you efficiently assess the child’s injuries and plot the best course of action, based on…

Based on what’s best for the kid.

Or let’s say your best friend calls you up, panicked. “They just took my mom to the hospital.” Suddenly your top priority is to help someone who is hurting. To put their needs above yours. That’s compassion. Sometimes it’s a reflex, but most of the time it’s an effort…

You are driving, and you have the right-of-way, and some clown almost hits you because he doesn’t see you because he was messing with his cell phone, and then he rolls down his window and yells at you, as if you were the one at fault!

He’s upset. And he happens to be upset at you. And it so happens you did nothing wrong. But does that really matter? This guy is hurting, just like the kid who fell off his bike. Does it matter if it’s a stranger or a friend or a family member who is angry? No. It’s the same situation. It’s always like the kid in the park. There’s a person, in front of you, who is in pain. What’s your next play? Will you bring help? Or cause more harm?

What if our reflex was compassion, not just some of the time, but all the time?

 

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