two words keep running through my mind: "compassion" and "loving-kindness." this morning i spent a few minutes meditating on "compassion." what does it mean to have compassion? it's easy to have compassion for those you love, for your family, your friends. how does one show compassion for those you don't know so well, for those who are outside your own experience?
every day i pray for "the strangers in our midst." when i pray this phrase, i am thinking of those who are in our country as immigrants from other country, especially those who are here illegally. i tried to imagine what life must be like for an "illegal", for someone who at any moment may be torn from a spouse, from a lover, from children, and deported, who is at the mercy of an unscrupulous employer who may cheat an "undocumented" worker, who must live in crowded houses and apartments, who has none of the legal protections that citizens enjoy, who is a scapegoat for the problems with our economic system, who is the object for political point-making by uncaring politicos. what must it be like to live in such fear all the time, when all one is seeking is a better life for oneself and one's loved ones?
as a practical matter, though, even if i can empathise with someone who is in our country illegally, what can i do to help that person? i know a few such people and have given them employment and have befriended them in other ways. i have spoken out in support of, and admiration fo,r them. i have written letters to politicians regarding bills that would help or harm illegals. i have posted support for beneficial legislation on my facebook page. is that enough?
perhaps, my best course of action is to continue thinking about compassion, imagining what it might be like to walk in the shoes of others, even to imagine what life is like for someone for whom i don't particularly care. my prayer this morning is that those two words keep running through my mind and that you & i both will learn the meaning of "compassion."