To be able to elevate our work and actions we need to know what we are doing and why: Are we working for ourselves, our clients, mankind, God? What is most important? Along this line of inquiry I sometimes wonder which aspect of man’s legacy might be the most uniquely defining when viewed from a distant future. Might it be our affinity for art like Beethoven’s Fifth?... or our technical acumen like the international space station? both impressive to be sure.
But I think I would give serious consideration to man’s innate ability to show compassion. The extent to which we are able to empathize must have evolved from initial compassion for other humans as a beneficial trait for our collective survival. Today we can feel compassion both for one another and countless beasts as well, including those we do not actually know or see, but might only be aware of or might imagine. As our numbers continue to overrun and displace so many of our fellow species they are now in ever growing need of our empathy and compassion.
An excerpt from a missive illustrating compassion: “A female humpback whale had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her mouth. This is her story of giving gratitude. A fisherman spotted her just east of the Faralon Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined she was so badly off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her...a very dangerous proposition. One slap of the tail could kill a rescuer. They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, nudged them, and pushed gently, thanking them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth says her eye was following him the whole time, and he will never be the same.”
Compassion may not be a common trait throughout the universe, and may not continue to be a trait of our species in the future, although I like to think of us that way. Some religions claim that the other beings on earth are here to serve our wants and needs. I see us simply as a species among species and it is only by the luck of the draw that you and I are we rather than them, that, or it. Compassion takes on a little different meaning once the point of view is changed and the old Mosaic adage applies as much or more appropriate than ever: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
|And I, Their Sister, Once Was As They And I, Their Brother, Once Was As They|