This election cycle has revealed a lot of things about the country we live in, to say the least. We have seen once clandestine racism be encouraged to come to the surface. We have witnessed xenophobia be stimulated by false accusations against good-hearted American citizens. We have heard name-calling that even toddlers are punished for be excused in support of a loose cannon presidential candidate.
And a lot of this is flourishing on social media where people can sit behind a computer in fake obscurity expressing their views, which seem to always be based in anger or, at “best,” ignorance.
It appears callousness is thriving in a country, and a world, desperately in need of the exact opposite: compassion.
Those who know me know I am full of fire. I lose my mind when others are treated unfairly, when people are shunned simply because they are different, when rights are stripped away from those who are told they are less than.
This fire in me is often misunderstood as bitterness. But at the root of it all, in the foundation of every decision I make and every opinion I form, is always, only, unequivocally a burning sense of compassion.
The funny thing about compassion is that when it exists, there really isn’t a choice to be made.
When I see Syrian refugees risking their lives that are already under attack by crossing a raging sea in hopes of reaching a safer land, I don’t have to choose. There is only one option: compassion. Of course they should be allowed to move here, or any other country that has the space within their borders. If not, it just proves those countries don’t have the space within their hearts either.
When I hear a woman tell her story about having to make the painful decision to terminate a pregnancy for any reason, I don’t have to choose. There is only one option: compassion. Of course she should be able to make her own choices in regards to her autonomy and her life. If not, it just proves her opponents think they are above her and believe they should be the ones to make those decisions for her.
When I watch a video of a black man being gunned down and killed in his car by a cop who claims he feared for his life while killing an even more fearful citizen, I don’t have to choose. There is only one option: compassion. Of course that officer should be held accountable for pulling a trigger instead of pulling out empathy. If not, it just proves that all lives indeed do not matter equally to those who claim they do.
When a heroin addict overdoses, when an immigrant jumps the fence, when a man marries the man he loves, when a woman is sexually assaulted, there is only one option: compassion.
Do you wish to see addicts thrown in jail? Do you wish to see illegal immigrants deported back to dangerous, crumbling nations? Do you wish to see LGBT members discriminated against? Do you wish to see abuse victims live without justice?
If so, there is a possibility the origin of your convictions should be challenged. And I do, indeed, challenge you.
I challenge all of you to stop before you jump to a conclusion and first investigate what you’re basing it on.
Anger and ignorance are dim. They hold you back, and they stop you from being the best version of yourself. They cause stress, and they build walls that cut you off from the rest of society. They’re the kind of emotions that cause your fists to tighten while muttering slurs under your breath.
Compassion, however, is light. It is not rooted in darkness or hatred. It looks forward and in hope. It allows you to see a situation from the eyes of those living it. It lets you slow down for a moment and wonder what would happen if you were the one in question.
And this has nothing to do with politics at the end of the day, because there are no politics in compassion.
Regardless of your party affiliation, your religious background, your ethnicity, or your income, the question you should ask yourself while making any decision or forming any opinion is this: What is at the root of it?
Because the right choice is often the light choice.