If you care, and you are kind, you must be naive. “Oh, such a dear, he/she just doesn’t know yet.”
We like things easy. Right, or left. Up, or down. Good, or bad. Grey is tricky.
Compassion is a noun; “
Alleviate the suffering, is a verb, and it is also a calling.
In order to know, and at least marginally understand suffering, you have to have experienced at least a little suffering, or studied it, or stumbled somehow into the profoundly unsettling suffering of another, so much so, that it grasped you right by the heart whilst undefended by human bullshit. Or–all of the above.
We can be codependent and compassionate. We can be altruistic and compassionate. We can be selfish and compassionate, because it makes us look good, and feel good about ourselves…and maybe those are the gateway emotions, en route to compassion–suffering, and selfishness. From there, it’s a passing thing, or it turns into something else–an opportunity. For what, is up to you.
I have two tattoos. Yin and Yang. One is a wolf, and it makes me feel strong, and unsinkable, and resourceful. I got it during a time of suffering, and growth. The other, is flowers and butterflies–childlike. I got it during a time of suffering, and growth, because I need reminders.
I had the good fortune to sit and listen to the Dalai Lama, with my tiny daughter on my lap. His talk was entitled, “The Path to Peace and Happiness in the Global Society.” One thing he said struck a chord so deeply, and let the tears quietly free. Essentially, he said that when you are a compassionate person, it does not necessarily benefit you.
When you work with people, you see the best and worst our species has to offer. If you keep doing it, you see even more of it, over time. You learn that really, it’s true–nothing can shock you, though there are days where the work strikes through, and serves to soften you. And when you keep showing up, long after the shiny of it has worn off, you are a gift, and a blessing.
It is presumptuous to think compassionate people are more naive, or less human than any of the rest of us, and it is presumptuous to assume compassion is anything but grace.