Sometimes when I read about the suffering of others, especially the suffering of children, my stomach turns ever so slightly. Emotions begin to creep in -- sadness, discomfort, guilt, frustration, fear. My heart palpitates and my mind wanders. So, I take a deep breath and try to focus on the people right in front of me. I try to live in a state of positivity.
I do this because the alternative is a deep dark rabbit hole of negativity. There are so many injustices in this world. There are so many unexpected losses. There are so many seemingly simple solutions that are never actually simple because of politics, greed, and ignorance.
Why can't we feed the hungry? Why can't we give medicine to the sick? Why can't we give people living on the streets permanent shelter? Why can't we respect differing personal or religious beliefs? Why do we need to bring others down in order to find success? Why are people judged by their skin color or social/economic status? Why is higher education for the privileged? Why do we focus on our differences rather than our sameness? Why are people filled with hate and anger? Why is violence the answer to anything? Why do celebrities who do nothing get more attention than the people who pledge their lives to others? Why aren't we working together to find solutions or cures to diseases?
What will be the impetus for change - locally as well as globally?
I feel this urge to help each and every time I watch the news or scroll through my social media newsfeeds and learn about someone going through hard times. I feel and feel and feel. But, is feeling enough? Is empathy and love and compassion for others enough without action?
I believe that in my lifetime, I have extended much love and support to others. I believe I have demonstrated through small actions my dedication to being there for others. I have advocated, donated, volunteered and simply showed up for friends and loved ones when it counted most. But, I have done all of this without sacrificing much of anything. I have done all of this while sitting at my laptop in my safe and comfortable single family home.
And I wonder... how is this enough? Am I a fraud? Does my desire to be compassionate to others actually match my willingness and ability to make a difference? Is it even worth my time and energy?
I am only one person. I only have one voice. I can only do so much by myself. I have a family. I have obligations and responsibilities -- the same excuses everyone has. Yet, sometimes it feels like other people are capable of so much more... making me feel like my contributions are so much less.
After high school, one of my classmates joined the Peace Corps and lived overseas among the destitute to make her difference. She shaved her gorgeous long black hair and gave up her material possessions to put her desire to help into action. She was simply one person with a lot of compassion for others, but she made a choice. She chose a specific path. A path I admire greatly. A much different path than I could ever imagine. In my mind, this was the measure for true compassion. A benchmark I could never imagine meeting.
Years later, after she left the Peace Corps and graduated college, I met up with this classmate again. She was working at a nonprofit and her hair had grown back. She was still just like me. She wasn't a God-like person who floated above everyone else. She was still simply one voice. Just one person who cares and gives when she cans. She is me. She is you. She is an example that at any point in any of our lives, we can all choose a path of giving that is motivated by our compassion. And we don't have to shave our heads or give up everything to do this. We can keep our homes and prioritize our families. We just have to care enough to do something. Anything.
The impetus for positive change is right under all of our noses... held within each of our hearts. But, perhaps we are holding ourselves back by the mistaken belief that one person is not enough. Perhaps we don't believe that our small seemingly innocuous contributions make a difference. Perhaps we don't think that feeling and caring adds up to anything tangible.
But, now I understand...
We simply have to care and do what we can - no matter how small -- because individual voices can combine into a symphony for positive change.
Today, my voice joins 1000s of others to share the message that compassion matters. Compassion makes a difference. Compassion is the answer. The impetus for change IS compassion.
#1000speak for Compassion
Nicole Dash is a writer, blogger, and business owner who lives outside Washington DC with her husband and four children. Nicole writes about life, family and finding herself amid the chaos on her heartfelt blog Tiny Steps Mommy. Please subscribe to her blog to join her in this journey.
This post originally appeared on Tiny Steps Mommy.