Friday, October 26, 2012

Compassion for those that maybe strangers, or friends... showing a little kindness

Many months back, I began to think about the ways "humans" treat other "humans". Within our daily normal walk of life, we usually encounter many people. If we have children, are employed, or run errands, pay bills, go shopping, or anything that requires being out of the house, we more than likely see someone that we have an opportunity to speak to. Neighbors are probably our closest as far as having a conversation. If you have people living right next door to you, and you are not far out in the country without close neighbors, I would say you see them in their yards, picking up the paper, watering, washing their car, taking their kids to school, going to work, and so forth. Thus you have ample opportunity to get to know or at least be somewhat familiar with who lives beside you, or possibly on each side, like us, as well as a couple of the homes across the street. We know all of them. Now, this does not mean we have dinners together, or visit on Saturdays, but we all know one another well enough to be of help to each other in an emergency, or to say hello. If one of them have been ill, or are chronically ill, we also know them well enough to be able to ask how that person, or persons are doing. If they are elderly neighbors, for them, often times, it is even more important for them to know their neighbors. They also could have an emergency with illness, be locked out of the house, etc. and need a helping hand. If you have lived where you do for any length of time, think about how well you know those who live closest to you. Do you know their names, their ages, if they have kids or are they elderly, possibly living alone? D you know if their is a chronically disabled or ill person living close by? If you have no clue who your neighbors are, and you have lived in that same place for years, then you should definitely introduce yourself. Make an extra effort to at least speak when you see each other. You might be surprised what a smile and a good morning could bring into your life, and theirs as well.
After that spiel, I will now get down to the "brass tacks" of what my example above is all about. That is the fact people in general "lack" compassion anymore. Their is a lack of several different types of the way human treat other humans, from empathy, sympathy, greediness, patience, kindness, lying, uncaring and the list goes on. I have been on the band wagon of the lack of compassion I see in people these days, as well as the severe "greed" we see in this country, as well as the entire world now. It used to be that people helped others. Whether, as I was talking about above, neighbors helped neighbors, whether it was building a barn, or having a dinner, and towns were full of compassionate people that truly had a heart and cared for their fellow townspeople. Right now, even if you live in a small community, I would bet you could tell me you do not know all of your neighbors, you have not said "Good Morning" to a totally complete stranger in months. Maybe I am wrong about you, but I can tell you that I see more people tat seemed to be so totally "spaced" out when they are in the stores, I think the President or a famous singer could walk by and they would not notice. Even in this small community, you can go into our largest market here (and for the most part everyone recognizes one another, BUT the checkers for the most part could not say whether certain people came in, dressed "out of character", or had their hair dye funny or was some type of "celebrity". They have been "trained", almost brain washed into saying "Hello", or "Good Morning", or "Have a Good Day", yet who they said it to would be another story. I have heard of famous singers stopping in small town markets and going in themselves, yet not one person looked enough at them to know who they were. It is not just the checkers at the market, so I don't mean to pick on them. But, they are a very good example of the whole process of not really "caring" or being compassionate, or truly knowing who you are speaking to. Yet, we see it all over. I know I am "the pot" calling the kettle black, so to speak. I am sure I do it at times to. Yet, most of the time I DO pay attention to who I speak with, what they say, who could be with them, how they are dressed, even down to what is in their basket, say we are in Wally-World...
For me I am a people "watcher", and I do NOT mean in some WEIRD way. I just really enjoy seeing people the things they do and don't do, the way they dress, what they might put in their carts, how nice they are, or how "sulled up" they seem, and unfriendly. I find humans to be extremely interesting creatures. From the way we talk, dress, what we buy, eat, drive and many other things we can see about one another is a very amazing thing to me. I think that is a very huge piece of the steps to being compassionate to others. If you do not "SEE" they are in pain, or have a bandage, brace, or incision visible, or if you are not really "listening" to what someone tells yo, you certainly cannot be compassionate to their feelings and needs. For instance, when I have had my surgeries, like my 4 level cervical neck surgery about 15 weeks ago, I made sure, even though I did not have to wear it, that I put my hard collar on to go into any of our bigger stores. Without some kind of "sign" and at times they do not even notice that, people will run over you, stand in your way, run into your basket, not help to take your sacks to your car, etc. So, in order to be "safe", I wore that collar for weeks when I drove, or went out shopping anywhere. Same way with my knee surgeries and so forth. Even though I am NOT looking for "Sympathy" or for someone to feel sorry for me, what I am looking for is the decency to see I am "disabled" and I do need to be treated more carefully. But, honestly, we should all EXPECT to be treated with decency and kindness! WE should feel people should say "excuse me" or "pardon me", or "I am sorry", and things like "Thank you", "Hope you feel better soon", and the list of short, a few word sentences to even strangers out in the world, should all be given "compassion", and feel they are "worth" it.
I see people that don't hold a door open for someone, or ask them if they need help with something off of a shelf, if they maybe in need of assistance. And that also goes two ways, we should RESPECT those who do check us out, sack our items, possibly take them out to our car, work in gas stations, and so forth. IF they treat us with kindness, we should reciprocate for sure.
I can honestly walk by and see the look on certain faces of people and know what kind of mood they are in, whether they are a pleasant person, or crabby, stern or kind, and the list goes on. I don't really think of it as a "6th sense" but more really observing people my entire life.
When it comes to compassion that we that are chronically ill or in pain would appreciate, is the fact that those who KNOW we are ill, checking on us, if we do not have immediate help around us. Maybe a quick email, or a phone call, to say hello and ask they need anything. If someone is in a brace, for their neck, legs, back, etc, give them a little extra room, and extra time to walk around in a store. Or if you see someone moving slowly or holding onto a basket, more than likely they could have a chronic pain day, or a flare with FM, Lupus or RA. Or if someone seems to be squinting, maybe putting their hands to their heads, or general symptoms of a headache, backache, etc., if nothing else tell them you hoot they get well soon, or feel better soon. I know we can make up all kinds of excuses, and there are so many of us chronically ill or in pain or both, that get completely shunned from not only friends, but worse... their family! Family members sometimes "do not believe" a loved one is so ill. The number one thing I hear is "well you don't look sick"??? Well, just because you have a very serious, chronic illness or pain, does not mean you must look like "hell" all of the time. We do have days that we feel "more human" than others. Also, the family tends to get mad because we can't help them out as much, or maybe do need a hand with certain things. Well, that takes up "their" precious time. Why is one person's time any ore precious than the others? We each are given the exact number of minutes in any given day. So, mine are just as important as the next person's. Whether they be a "professional", like doctors, who are the world's worst about thinking THEIR time is more important than the patients time. Or people that drive, running red lights, stop signs, talk on cell phones, text or whatever they do, and can cause a serious accident, because being a minute late is more important. I would much rather be a few minutes late than run over someone and injure or kill them. So, a few minutes late is not worth ruining your life and someone else's also. So, those that have a severe "lack" in the department of compassion for humans in general, surely are going to be even less in the same department to someone who is disabled. I find when you see someone with a "sour" look on their face, you can sometimes just say, I like your dress, or a piece of jewelry, or you could tell them Hello, or just make eye contact and smile with them. You would be surprised how people's entire day is better because you took a moment to smile at them. Little things can move huge mountains. People have a need to feel "special". Whether they admit it or not, they want someone to respect them, notice them, or just say something nice to them.
I can tell you from personal experience as a woman with chronic illnesses and chronic pain issues, that I already face a huge amount of shame and guilt at times. When we are on a cane, or parking in a disabled parking space, or maybe we have a brace on our neck or are just going slowly due to pain, stiffness and so forth, we feel everyone staring at us, and feel that people do not believe we are really ill. I can also say that being disabled is something for the most part we try to "hide" our physical problems. We put a smile on no matter how bad the pain is, we try to "walk normally", and put on our "best" behavior outside our home. I don't want someone feeling "sorry" for me at all. BUT, it is appreciated if just in looking at you, they show in their eyes some compassion.
The next time someone who "appears to look young", or looks like they are "not ill or disabled" is parked in a handicapped zone, but gets out of the car looking "fine", please think BEFORE thinking your first thought! More than likely they are ill, but you may not see just how badly. For instance, I have Lupus, Degenerative Joint and Disc Disease, RA Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, have just finished having a 4 level cervical disc and fusion surgery, have a shoulder and both knees already replaced, plus various other issues and surgeries. But, I make "appear to be well" when you see me out on the street. I could be having one of my "good" days, or maybe I feel lousy but I just refuse to show it.
So, the next time you are out and about around town, take a moment to say hello to a stranger, or greet your neighbor in the yard... or say thanks to the checker.. maybe hold the door open for someone, but most of all, really look around to see this world has many people like myself, that want to have a "normal" life, yet that is not the hand we have been dealt. Yet, we still would like to have a little understanding and compassion from friends, neighbors, family and even strangers.

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