Heartfelt Compassion

>   Six months, ago while driving in my car, I saw a cat in the middle of the road that had obviously been recently struck by a passing car. I made a U-turn, put my emergency flashers on, gently picked up the body, and walked to the nearest house to try and find its owner. The house I knocked on happened to be it’s home. It turned out that the cat had gotten out of the house without it’s owner’s realizing it. Sadly, it was dead.
    Yesterday CNN and other news agencies reported that a 78-year-old Hartford, Connecticut man was struck by two passing cars who were ‘chasing’ each other. Neither driver stopped. As the man lay critically injured in the street, a video camera memorialized passersby on foot and in their cars observing the man but making no effort to assist him…not even calling 911. They just looked and went on their way.
    I set forth both instances not because I want to praise my actions and condemn theirs, but rather to simply explain why I did what I did.
    In my reality, we are all connected. “All” means not only humans, but every living thing regardless of it’s position on the evolutionary chain. Believing this in my heart, as I do, I could no more fail to assist any living person or thing in need than I would fail to get myself assistance if I were injured.  There is simply no distinction between the two. In fact, it is the making of distinction that creates so much apathy and indifference in the world.
    What happened in Hartford, …the apathy, indifference and just plain callousness of the witnesses and bystanders…may have multiple origins. It may be as I have stated above, or it may be the result of so much excessive violence through various forms of media to which we are all exposed that has hardened our hearts, or it may have been fright that the man (who is Hispanic) is an illegal alien and no one wanted to create more trouble…or yet some other reason I have not thought of.
    Regardless of what the origin of the lack of action and the withholding of assistance, it is a troublesome warning light that went off in Hartford. It says more about us than perhaps we want to know. It says we lack compassion, are disconnected from our humanity, and have lost sight of how interconnected and interdependent in relation to one another we are. I say “we” because I am that man who was left to die and I am each of those people who failed to act, just as I was that cat.
    Perhaps that’s a perspective we could all benefit from.

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