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This has been a challenging week to find models of compassion in the world, in my community, or in my heart. The Sixth Step in Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life asks us to pay attention, anyway, even to the smallest acts. I’m finding that even though my small acts of compassion seem puny in the face of large acts of hatred, they are important. I discovered, this week, that my best antidote to despair is to perform a small act of compassion.
The Sixth Step asks for three small acts a day — one that follows the Golden Rule of doing something for someone else that I would want done for me, one that follows the reverse Golden rule by refusing to do something that I wouldn’t want done to me, and one that changes my thought pattern from a negative place (anger or disappointment) to “a more kindly direction.”
Here’s some of what worked for me this week.
Do Unto Others
- Attended multiple meetings to work with someone who is trying to build bridges between opposing groups
- Went to a school board meeting to support a friend and others as we asked for the elimination of suspensions in Kindergarten through 3rd grade because, among other reasons, they are disproportionately issued to black and brown students
- Wrote a short tribute to my aunt on Facebook as a way to share the mourning of her death with my cousins who are scattered across the world
Refrain from Harm
- Tried to listen to an opposing group and worked, mostly successfully, to keep contempt at bay
- Made very careful choices about what I shared on my Facebook page to prevent further trauma and division in our world
- Eliminated some to-do list items in order to have more quality time with my husband
Change the Thought Train
- Used my Head Office tool to work through my feelings
- Used the tonglen meditation to change the focus from my feelings to the feelings of others
- Used the empathy meditation to prepare myself for encounters with others
What small acts of compassion have you witnessed in yourself or others in the past week? Do you feel better about the world when you do something, no matter how small, to improve it?