“Compassion is the basis of morality.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer
By Dave Hood
Witnessing the suffering of another.
Perhaps a homeless man standing,
on the street, shaking in the cold,
requesting pocket change for a warm cup of coffee.
Or a foreign traveler searching for the name of a street,
Anxiety in his eyes, Discombobulated as if lost,
In the enormous, indifferent city, crowded with strange faces.
Or a young woman weeping on a park bench,
As if she’s grieving sad news, perhaps the loss
Of a her boyfriend whose departed for someone else.
Perhaps an elderly woman holding a cane for balance,
climbing the steps, struggling to pull
her shopping buggy filled with groceries
Or the dog with sad eyes, vomited and shivering,
Lying on its side, resting, as if its caught the flu
Or something far worse.
In their suffering, you recall your own private moments of pain,
like the time you broke your leg, when you thought
you’d ski in the sunshine all day. Then you hopped around
on one leg, the other in a cast, balancing with crutches
for what seemed like an eternity.
Or the time you lost your employment
when you expected a promotion,
searched for work for a year, wallet always empty.
Or the time your girlfriend left you
for your best friend–people you trusted.
How you were devastated, felt sadness and betrayal
for several years.
These moments evoke feelings of compassion.
Your conscience whispering: “ Offer assistance
to alleviate their pain
And provide some comfort.
” So you extend a helping hand
to the person who suffers.