Every war, every battle, is built on resentment, bitterness and pessimism. It’s built on collective resentment, bitterness, and pessimism. You can see it in a culture, which also means you could potentially see a culture of kindness, love, and compassion.
It’s very hard being an empath or highly sensitive person in the world and having media and society built on violence. It plants a seed of anxiety that everyone must be out to destroy you, if not now, they will want to eventually. It creates isolation, because people are draining. Why are people are draining? Because we think they want to destroy us. That’s what our own history, media, and current events teach us – humans destroy each other.
I don’t believe humans are innately destructive of one another. I think that’s all we’ve been taught. And, governments and corporations capitalize on that. Capitalism isn’t inherently evil either, friends. But, a healthy government and corporation (should they exist in the future) would capitalize on your well-being as well as their own. Example, if my passion in life is “construction material” and I find out that the lime I’ve been mining gets into the water and kills fish, and that means my employees can’t fish or even swim in the water in which the fish are in, then it doesn’t mean I have to fight to continue to mine Lime… I can figure out an alternative for construction material. One that doesn’t pollute water. One that is even better than lime. Like hemp! We’ve known hemp’s uses for generations, but unfortunately it’s still not in high production. For the future, I hope that if capitalism persists, that it will always be done for the benefit of all, instead of the benefit of 1%and I feel like humans who are shown compassion and kindness will be super open to change rather than feeling defensive of their corporate assets.
The best way for us to cultivate a culture of kindness and compassion is to show unconditional love and gentleness for the first 7 years of our little humans’ lives.
Of course, that will be difficult to attain – not impossible, but requires a lot of humans as resources for this! (It takes a village to raise a child)
So, the next best thing (because we’re not here to strive for perfection and to only ever be pure) is to show kindness and compassion when someone is at their weakest or most vulnerable. We hardly trust in one another, if we live in a world that we feel like another human actually valued our lives despite the potential danger (ex. flood or fire) or seeming impossibility (ex. mental illness), we’ll want to make sure that we can pass that along. When I think of what moves us the most deeply, it’s when we see humans saving someone or “something” in distress. It’s bravery.
Example: when there’s a disaster and people go out of their way to organize and help the victims. We’re so inspired by their bravery. Firemen pulling someone from the rubble of a fire is one thing. But, when an average citizen helps with no expectation of glory or reward, we’re moved. We’re moved to tears. We’re moved to action.
I was on a bus trip. I met a man, and I felt like he could use a friend for a while. He was moving to Surrey to have a fresh start from his life in Alberta. He had a son who was the same age as my son, about 2. It can be hard to have small talk and connection on bus trips. You don’t always know who would prefer quiet vs. who is wanting to connect. I was fortunate on this bus trip that some people helped me at bus station transfers by watching one of my kids, or entertaining one of my kids on the bus while I was trying to calm another one down.
With this man, we just connected right away because of our Indigenous backgrounds. To be honest, there’s often just an understanding and a trust between one another. To be Indigenous in Canada means you’re likely aware of the greatest extents of human suffering. So, he shared with me his struggles with his son’s mother. And, how he wanted to give him the best life he possibly could. My phone was dead. I wanted to add him to Facebook. I knew he could use a friend. But, I couldn’t remember his name after we parted ways. I just knew him as “Yellowbird.” But I had this undoubted feeling that I would in fact see him in my Facebook newsfeed. I felt strongly he’d be in a news article. So, I just trusted in that.
Not long after, a friend of mine shared a post of a man who had saved his landlords from a house fire. All but one of them. He lived in their downstairs basement. His sister was there with him that evening. But, he had to go through the fire and pull these people out. He was really hard on himself for not saving the last person – a grandparent of landlord’s family. Elders are very sacred to us Indigenous people. So he was very hard on himself. He wasn’t even really thinking of the fact that he and his son would have to find a place to stay, and clothes and all the basic necessities for life. He was focused on his disappointment in himself that he didn’t save that elder. I saw his name in the article. I confirmed in the video interview that it was indeed the man I saw on the bus. So, I looked him up on Facebook. I added him. He shared with me his concern that he was being painted as a hero. He was concerned about the news broadcasting him as a hero. He didn’t want that. He felt exposed. I didn’t know how to help him change that belief. So, I focused on what I could do. I shared the news articles on Facebook. And, a few of the relatives who saw it shared it as well. And I reached out to those relatives. They’re influential people with large networks of people they can reach, and who could actually support this man with the necessities he needed. I was also happy when he told me he had a friend who supported him as well. I asked my relatives to see what they could do to help Yellowbird. And they met him, helped him get housing, and lots of people helped him with the necessities for him and his son. They helped him find sweetgrass for smudging.
I knew I couldn’t give this man all he needed, but I trusted in the love I was raised with from my family and the fact that they have more resources than I do would help him.
We may not all be ones to run into a fire.
We may feel like we don’t have the resources to get someone back on their feet.
We may feel like we can’t even emotionally support someone whose gone through a traumatic event.
But we gotta start believing in ourselves. Because we wouldn’t be SO inspired by peoples’ bravery and compassion if we didn’t see it within ourselves. We’re also inspired by the connecting. Of someone empowered connecting to someone who is vulnerable.
We are brave beings. I’m not here to tell you to start a revolution. I’m not here to change the world. I’m just showing you what’s helped me. What’s helped my heart have faith in humanity.
If you feel like you’re brave enough to run into a fire or to support someone after a traumatic event, but also have a fear of connection – start doing that brave work internally. You might be like me. You might’ve grown up in an oppressed, money-strapped, constricted/confined family or community (ex. on a Reserve/Reservation). The poverty mindset may be strong in all those around you. So, faith or belief in the bravery in humanity may be difficult. But, look around you, you’ll find it. You’ll see moms on welfare taking care of other peoples’ kids. You might have judgments towards her, but just stop. That woman feels like she is doing the best she can to support another human being. She barely has much, but she thinks she has enough to help another kid. Look for people doing generous acts, no matter how small. And also look for the big acts as well.
Personally, I feel like I have the biggest heart and willingness to do go to any lengths to help someone, but I think of the real life consequences and my real life limits. Example, don’t think I’m physically strong enough to save anyone from a fire. I mean if I could, I would.
But, I know I’m a really good listener. I believed my love and support of others’ was a means in which I could help the world. Yet, I was PAINFULLY SHY. I had to work SO HARD on being brave in the smallest ways. I barely could make eye contact with people. I could barely speak to people. I didn’t dance, I longed to sing by my shy, quiet voice just couldn’t belt out what I felt deep within lol. I felt like I sucked at everything. I sucked at writing, drawing…. I thought I was a slow runner. But, when I was 6 I remember one of my teammates. An adorable freckle-faced, dark-haired girl, who was fast and skilled at soccer. We were at practice one day doing a drill which required us to pair up or group up, and she grabbed my hand and said, “Come here! You’re fast! We can win!” I was shocked. Someone who didn’t think I sucked lol. In the summer leading up to grade 1, I was horrified thinking I’d be the stupidest kid in the class if I couldn’t spell. I needed to be really smart (to be loved). I found out, “What could be the simplest thing for me to learn how to spell?” I asked my mom for like hours on end if I was spelling “Yes” and “No” right. My sister told me, “I LEARNED to spell Yes and No that day.” She was 3 at the time. To be blunt, we all have this fear. I just felt it WAY deeper and more intensely. Why? Because of intergenerational trauma of residential school. My body was literally afraid, because of things I inherited from my parents and grandparents, that if I didn’t learn to be successful in school that I could be physically, verbally or even sexually assaulted. I also had the other part of me that was connected closely enough, generationally, to know that I did not deserve to feel this scared or afraid. So, I would be sick a lot as a kid. I developed asthma at the age of 7. This helped me end up staying home for more days than usual when I got a cold, because I was so wheezy. By the age of 8, I had gotten pneumonia, which kept me out of school for a whole month.
But, by age 9, I had been put in “gifted” classes. My determination to be “successful” in school had apparently paid off, but there’s so much life skills I failed to learn in school. So, I’m not sure how successful schooling was or ever can be for me.
Which is why I had to learn bravery for myself and what that looked like. I can totally run into a burning building, but I’d just be another liability.
If someone was trapped on the water in a storm, I’d totally hop on a boat and save them. But, I don’t have my own boat, and I actually have no marine skills.
So, what do I have that could help someone in crisis? Extremely deep wells of empathy and compassion. Can that save people and end suffering? Well, I’d like to think it can. I’d like to think that’s what we’ve all been craving. So, if you’re like me, you can be the emotional safe haven for others. If you’re reading this, you’d have to be like me, because I’m too weird to be easily found :). You may also feel the same way I felt for so long, that there are extremes to your nature that make it hard to really feel like you’ll really be a reliable source for wisdom and compassion for others. Well, just so you know, that’s all a part of a fear of connecting. There’s very real fears that you have to push through. Overcoming a social anxiety is bravery! So, HONOUR that. I say “a” social anxiety, because you’ll likely have many social anxieties. You ARE braver than you think. Personally, on reflection, I realize now I really did feel like I was going to die, and like I was vulnerable to attack, and I sure acted like it. Another soccer reference, I remember being older playing soccer. I felt like I could be a better player, but my mom wasn’t supportive enough. I’m not blaming her, but with my social skills, I just didn’t have enough social skills to be accountable to the degree she expected me to be. She expected me to know when my next practices and games would be. But, I was literally afraid to be around these people, so I couldn’t even hear their conversations about the next practice or game.
So, if you’re desiring to be braver. You are brave. You’ve been brave, but you just haven’t credited yourself. You think you’re not capable, but you are.
Bravery is making any decision in which you cannot guarantee the outcome.
It’s also making a decision you’re so sure of the outcome that you commit to it.
And, it’s bravery we need to ACT compassionately.
Some of us know someone we feel like always does the brave thing.
I’m not sure if these people are always in alignment with their highest selves, but you can still learn from them.
Brave acts we wish we could do can be:
– stopping a fight
– hitchhiking and trusting that you will meet kind strangers
– picking up hitchhikers and having that inner trust that you’re picking up honest people
– saying something that for sure will cause a conflict, but willing to engage with someone in conflict and hope to meet a peaceful resolution. This can actually deepen bonds.
– speaking up for someone being harassed
Ways to get to these acts of compassionate bravery if you’re way too shy to connect
– start acknowledging you are brave and empowered. You have to start believing. Even if you just put the intention out there, it will lead you on the path towards compassionate bravery.
– put yourself in other peoples’ shoes. The next three steps are three people you need to put yourself in their shoes
Imagine how they think, feel, and operate. And, do so without judgment. The way they think, feel, and operate may feel way different. You might think of someone and think, “What a monster? How could they be that way?” But, you need the compassion here. Because, it’s the “monsters” you’re afraid of most. The ones who have the most power in your mind that stop you from brave, compassionate connection.
-Also, imagine how people you admire think, feel, and operate. Realize, there was a time when they were afraid. When they were in YOUR shoes. Because you cannot admire someone’s greatness without already having it within you. They were looking up to someone they admired and wishing they could be them, and needing to find out how to become that.
– Put yourself in the shoes of someone just like you. This is essentially imaging how you’d wish someone to reach out to you. This one is important because you then have to see that you need connection. You need others to be brave for you. That’s the thing about connection. It’s a two-way stream. And, putting out the desire to connect with someone is putting out a desire for someone to want to connect with you.
You are a brave and compassionate soul. I may expand on this even further, or divide this up into another post somehow in the future.