Calls for Compassion, and Acts of Courage

The Situation–This is what I call the current pandemic crisis, as well as the swell of protests and calls for fundamental human rights, as well as the current sad, anxious mood everywhere. I don’t think I know of anyone who is immune to feeling the ambient energy of The Situation. And we all are responding however we are responding to those feelings: Some of us more successful and graceful in our responses than others, but mostly I am hearing reports of up and down from day to day and moment to moment.

One of the things that sustains me is what has sustained me, life-long: My connection to a diversity of friends. Even as they challenge my own opinions, beliefs, and political or spiritual leanings, my friends still inspire me with their striving to be their best selves in this very difficult Situation. Yet…

I’ve also noticed that the stress and sadness of everyday life in The Situation has brought many of us–myself included–to breaking points that are not pretty–at all. Ugly cries and not-so-nice behaviors abound at those times. The brink of breakdown is a scary place to be, and we might react from our survival instincts (flee or fight or freeze), rather than our calm and centered selves.

One friend recently told me of a trip to the grocery store that went badly for all concerned: He wasn’t wearing a mask, and said he had “…had it! I am done!” with having to do so, and with dealing with the whole pandemic response. At the checkout stand, the cashier informed him he could not be served without a mask. Friend replied he didn’t have to. Cashier stated it was the law. Friend threw out this volley: “It’s a mandate, not a law!” which was followed by choice words for describing an ignorant person, a visit from the store manager, and finally more choice swear words for said manager upon exiting the store. Whew.

I listened to his tale with as much patience as I could muster, and asked if he would welcome feedback. This is what came out of my mouth: “Every interaction that takes you sideways or aggravates you is either a call for compassion or an act of courage. In this case, it was both: The cashier’s words were a call for compassion: he has to deal with disagreeable people all day, and you just added to his stress. And on his end of the equation, his was an act of courage. Knowing full well he would probably get push-back from you, he respectfully carried out his duty.”

We will all be challenged with calls for compassion, as well as inspired by acts of courage during these profoundly shifting times. So… choose your battles wisely: Sometimes, it’s worth the speak-up and speak-out. But other times, the battle merely adds more stress to an already stressed Situation.

Let’s all collectively take a step back and ask: What do we want to contribute to this Situation? Stress and more suffering? Or relief of suffering through words and acts of compassion?

Thank you for your contribution, friends. I appreciate the effort. Be well.

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