“Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping him up.” -Jesse Jackson
I’ve always believed that there is a fundamental difference between compassion and pity: Compassion stands beside someone; pity stands above.
Sometimes it’s tempting to stand in that place, and not just because we’re being judgmental or cruel. Oftentimes, it feels safer up there. You don’t need to understand that person, or what they’re dealing with.
You also don’t need to get too close. You can simply remove yourself without getting too invested or involved, knowing that you feel bad, but there’s nothing you can do.
Compassion suggests a level of responsibility. It’s not just a matter of recognizing that someone else is in a bad place. It’s about knowing what that feels like, even if you’ve dealt with different challenges, and being a willing participant in healing that pain.
I remember when I was at the lowest point of my life there were two distinct types of friends: the friends who listened fully, and the friends who interrupted me with judgments and advice before I even had a chance to explore what hurt me.
I want to be the friend who listens–the one who may not always have the answers, but intends to be part of the solution, not the problem. I suspect that starts with a simple assertion, followed by a question: I am here. How can I help?
Who needs your help today?
Photo by Andrew Dyson