Do you think of yourself as compassionate? It’s not easy to consider compassion. That is, it’s not easy if you’re allowing yourself to see and conduct yourself as separate. For example, how many times do you walk by someone and not offer your true compassion?
Compassion isn’t money, time, or even offering your thumbs up on Facebook or Instagram. It’s about making a change. If you want to change the world, start by considering compassion. It will alter your life.
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Thank you for joining us for this podcast episode 028 of
True Connections with Weston Jolly
I find it interesting the things that come up that are created for me to see even more clearly. This week it’s all been about compassion. I’m not suggesting that this is happenstance or fate, quite the opposite. These are things we create to become aware, grow and to become empowered. In essence, we are continuing to create everything around us to expand.
It’s the same as traveling. Every time you or I take a trip we are out of our ordinary routines we get to see more about ourselves and how we relate compassionately with others in the world. This is just too woo woo general so pardon me while I get really personal. To properly understand some of things I want to share I need to give you some back story.
The housing development that I grew up in was a lot like what you’d see from the movie Back to the Future. Our house was a cookie cutter tract house in the subdivision called Cavalier Estates. Our family never moved during the entirety of my growing up but I was bounced around to different schools because our house was located on the boarder of two cities.
In a nutshell, school districts weren’t open, far from it, and I had to go to the schools in Tempe because our house was barely located with the boarders of that city. That said, it was kind of normal for all the kids in our neighborhood to be shuffled around to different schools in Tempe even though none of us wanted to change schools. When I began attending elementary school, the school district like many across the nation of that time, began integrating different kids from different areas.
This was the first time I’d ever been a minority. The kids from our neighborhood, which were predominantly white, were integrated with hispanic kids from other school districts. Nothing was weird except there was an immediate division created in the school. This was compounded by many hispanic kids gathering in different gangs. I wasn’t a part of gang and to my knowledge there weren’t any white gangs. But to be totally honest, I might be naive.
All I know is that there was a lot of division, anger and fighting that took place at school for no apparent reason beyond race. It would be silly to recognize only two races in the entire elementary school, but Hispanics and Caucasians were the largest groups. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t sitting in the majority.
Things were different. Very different. People from both sides carried knives to school to “protect themselves.” I was trying to lay low ultimately wanting to feel safe. One event in particular escalated the racial tensions at school to a new height.
A Hispanic kid had stolen a gun, some bullets and a pair of stainless steel handcuffs and came to school with a horrible intent. The boy with the gun, and a group of his friends, surrounded their victim and nabbed him. They carried him to the outer parts of the playground that was surrounded by a metal chain link fence. The Caucasian kid was handcuffed to the fence so he couldn’t get away.
The student that had stolen the gun put a single bullet into the chamber and spun it. A lot of yelling and crying was going on when the gun trigger was pulled. This time it was only a click. Again the bully with the pistol, spun the gun’s bullet chamber to repeat the game of Russian Roulette. The trigger was again pulled and …. click.
A few moments later, the inciting pupil was arrested as were those who were directly helping him. This true story swept through our small school like a wildfire. All the tensions, the racial tensions, got even higher. What does this have to with us today? And what does it have to do with compassion?
Compassion means feeling a deep sympathy for another. I had compassion for the kid handcuffed to the fence but none for the bully. All I really wanted was for my parents to get me out of this school. Understandably I was afraid and thus my compassion was limited.
Let me share something else with you and then allow me to connect these two incidents together. Last week I broke our SUV’s windshield. It was a mistake but I should have known better. I was loading something in the vehicle and I smashed the windshield from the inside.
I called our mechanic who recommended a company that could replace the windshield at a fraction of what we’d normally pay. I was excited to find the cheapest alternative to fixing the glass. I was following the directions provided by my iPhone when I heard, “you’ve arrived” as I am looking at the dirt driveway entrance to what looks like a junkyard.
It’s been a long while since I’d driven out from the luxury of our city and I was in a very poor suburb in Phoenix. I brought cash as my mechanic had me told too. I was uncomfortable in this part of town but most especially with this business. I got out of the car and I started to walk into a filthy trailer that I assumed was the office when a young man asked me if I needed help.
I said “yes.” He orally took my order, and then pointed to a lone office chair sitting in the middle of the dirt amongst parts and debris lying around everywhere, telling me I could wait there. Suddenly, I felt the emotional impact of my past came flying up to the surface.
I was the only Caucasian in this place. I felt scared. I don’t speak Spanish and I felt like everyone was looking at me. I felt out of place.
The dusty green office chair from the ’60’s didn’t have a spring so you couldn’t lean back without falling backwards. So there I sat tight and upright. I counted the minutes until I would get to leave. There was delay in getting a new windshield and the man helping me said in the only English that was ever used, “It won’t be too much longer.”
In the meantime, I watched a customer walk by in shorts with an ankle monitor. It was the size of two packs of hard carton cigarettes strapped together. And it was designed to be fat, bulky and embarrassing. This dude didn’t care as he wore it on display. I didn’t realize that his ankle monitor looked a lot like a small gun strapped to his ankle.
I looked around the open yard and the fencing around me was the same chain link fence used by my elementary school. I felt trapped. The job was finally finished and I was very glad to leave. As I drove away I felt a combination of fear, relief and wonderment.
I was running late to a family event, so I stuffed all my feelings and emotions the best that I could. All I felt was fear. I didn’t feel any compassion. Then I begin to think about how others might feel in visiting my home or city. I’d never really thought it this way before.
Well, certainly I have… but never compassionately. Let me share with you something else. For the last several weeks, we’ve been having some remolding done on our house. Alex was referred to us. Alex regularly works 10 to 12 hour days doing all kinds of construction work.
He’s resourceful, quick and he takes a strong personal pride in what he does. There’s a big difference between someone who can swing a hammer and someone who is a craftsman. And Alex is the later. There’s one thing we like most about Alex and that’s his attitude.
Unconsciously, Alex hums, whistles and sings in Spanish while he works. Unfortunately, I don’t speak Spanish but I’m grateful that Alex’s English is far better than my Spanish. I have taken a real interest in Alex. I didn’t know it until this past week, but he’s been working in the United States for 18 years as an illegal alien. I know because I thought to ask.
This concerns me because I am aware of current political prejudices toward his race and others especially in Arizona. My conversations with Alex are pretty funny -he’s patiently teaching me some Spanish words here and there. I usually pantomime while speaking English very slowly. I’ve discovered that Alex understands a great deal more than he lets on which is more than I understand of his language.
After quite some time of slowly getting to know one another, Alex took me into his confidence and shared this true story. A few years ago, Alex said he was leaving for work at 5am when a Caucasian policeman pulled him over. The law enforcement officer was angry and screamed at Alex to hand him, his car registration, insurance and driver’s license. Alex respectfully handed the officer everything he asked for. When the officer was done he for threw the registration, the insurance certificate and the Mexican driver’s license on the floor of the car.
The cop yelled, “Do you even speak English?” Scared, Alex, responded “no.” The cop suddenly went into a tirade and pulled his gun and told Alex to put his hands on top of the steering wheel. He said, “If you move, I’ll kill you.” Alex sat motionless, as another officer was dispatched to the scene. This officer was bilingual and asked Alex the same questions as the first responding officer while Alex sat motionless.
The Hispanic officer also noted that Alex was driving with a Mexican Driver’s license. It was determined that all of Alex’s paperwork in order minus the missing Arizona driver’s license. The original policeman wrote Alex four tickets claiming that none of the paperwork that he demanded was in proper order and also that Alex had threatened the officer.
Alex come to appear at civil court in front of a judge for the tickets which totaled $1,200 in fines. The judge was satisfied with the all the documentation Alex provided but he did impose a $200 fine for driving without a valid Arizona driver’s license. As Alex was telling me of his incident, he kept lowering his voice and whispering the word “Racista” speaking of the policeman who pulled him over.
Alex was very humble in telling me his true account. I apologized for the cop being racist. Alex, smiled and shrugged his shoulder and if to say, “What are you going to do?” I felt emotional and thanked him for sharing but I again apologized.
Only one time in my life have I been a minority and that was in elementary school. And I recently felt scared getting our car’s windshield fixed. Nothing happened I was just in a different culture for an hour and a half. Then, I thought compassionately of Alex and so many others.
Alex comes to my house which I know is much bigger and more luxurious than his tiny two bedroom apartment and he always calls me “Senior.” I know he knows my name but out of true respect I can’t get him to call me “Weston.” I never thought of myself, or even my race, as intimidating. Suddenly, I feel emotional because I had never thought that the other students in seventh grade might have felt afraid too.
They were probably alarmed, and as a result grouped together in the same way that I did with others of our neighborhood. Back then, I thought the whole group was a part of a gang. That was unfair. There were gangs at the school, and looking back for all I know there were gangs on both sides. I was naive. I’m know I’m naive.
I feel compassion for Alex as I’ve never been pulled over by a policeman with a weapon drawn on my head. I’ve never gone to court in another country. I demand English to be the language I speak even if I’ve in a foreign country.
In getting personal, I know I need to become much more sensitive in being further connected. I thought I would consider compassion. I’ve been arrogant. I’ve not been paying attention. I’ve not been compassionate.
I recently came across an article titled, The world is changing before our eyes. And we can’t do anything to stop it. From every perspective this is true. The world is changing. But this headline, like so many others, is filled with despair, fear and doom and it is the exact opposite of the truth.
For me to change I thought I would consider a little compassion. Whatever things that I’ve supported to create separation must come to an end. This starts with me. There is nobody else. If I’m to be truly compassionate then I must open myself even further, to see the truth.
If I’m truly compassionate there is no need for me to pretend. I have to rid myself of all those bats in my attic, so that are there are no lies that I host in my mind. I’m referencing True Connections with Weston Jolly podcast episode 27 with the same title; Bats in my Attic. If I haven’t been compassionate, which is more than a state of mind, then I must be in truth and change this.
This change requires my actions to be more connected through compassion. It’s not enough to watch a documentary, read an article or just offer money. We have to change the way we do things. So many believe that change is implemented in the tiniest of increments so that it’s not considered too disruptive.
I think there’s a place for incremental change. But I also think that if you’re really wanting to change you have to be willing to swing for the fences. This means bold change. Serious advancement.
It’s bold revolution. If you want to be compassionate, you don’t need to warm up to the idea, you can dive right in. This means getting involved. If you’ve been complacent or unaware to others around you, as I have, you can consider compassion. Compassion starts with yourself. Otherwise, any love or compassion that you’d offer outside of yourself can easily come across as insincere or fake.
If you’re considering compassion get in it. It’s much more than giving a “thumbs up” to a Facebook or Instagram post. If you don’t feel it how can you offer true compassion to another? I keep thinking of Alex and his tolerance of things that he can’t control like prejudice and hate. His example of compassion moved me. I watched him shrug his shoulders like the title of the article in a hopeless state saying “what are you going to do?”
I think of Alex’s sweet smile and actions to be an invitation to do something. You may ask yourself, like what? What things can you do to be more compassionate? Well, I can think of several ideas to jump start your being compassionate.
Warning! They’re not incremental, they’re fearless. Again, being compassionate incrementally is totally cool too but I’m emphasizing the bold method. A friend and client of mine has started an organization that she calls Roll With It. If you’re interested in exactly what she’s doing go to this podcast page and click on the link.
It’s a brave approach. She’s asking you to sit in a wheel chair for a day. I’m telling you, if you’ve never tried something like this, it is an incredible means of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. You might learn a little compassion.
Want some more ideas in how to be more compassionate? Go ride a bus. Go the hospital and sit in the waiting room. Go downtown and visit the homeless. I know of a woman who did this and she was invited into a small tent and was offered a meal. It can be really hard to receive when someone is giving to you when you think you’re the one that should be giving. This is what compassion is all about isn’t it?
Go to a senior’s home. Have you ever been? Well, I could describe it, but it won’t be the same as you’re going. Go, find out what it is to be with in the midst of all those elders.
Serve a meal at the Ronald McDonald house. It’s pretty simple. You’ll meet with an administrator they’ll tell you what to do and you’ll do it. After your done serving, sit and eat with someone that you might have served.
Why not sign up as a hospice volunteer? A close friend of mine continues to do this. He sits, offers his love and compassion to the dying. He lost his father and his sister to cancer and he wants to compassionately give to others. He’s quite an example. Why not you?
If you’re considering compassion get involved. Don’t listen to me, do it for yourself. Attend an AAA meeting. Just sit and listen.
There are endless ways to jump in. Try it. Compassion is a real path to love and connection. Don’t be afraid to let yourself get really involved.
You might feel awkward at first but it involving yourself compassionately will change you. I feel changed just in having sat in a dirty chair while my windshield was repaired. I have a new compassionate perspective. I also feel honored to work with Alex.
This is what you want right? To change the world? Well, it starts here now with you. I can’t wait to hear of your stories of transformation through compassion. Go on now… Seriously, I’d love for you to share your experiences of compassion.
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