If my name wasn’t Coco, then I think I should have been called “Plato” because I’m something of a feathery philosopher. And I spent much of this morning sitting on a solitary door handle, considering what sets humans apart from the rest of creation. That’s a difficult question to answer because humans are the most complex of all creatures and no two humans are alike.
Of course, humans are meant to be brainy, but having seen how my owner goes about things, I often have to question this. And like many other creatures, humans have a wide range of emotions which include the ability to feel love, affection, anger and fear. But there is one characteristic which sets them apart from everything else, and that is their ability to feel compassion. And that can be compassion towards one another or towards their feathery and furry friends. And compassion involves deep emotional complexity; the ability to put yourself in somebody else’s position and to imagine their feelings and emotions at a particular moment.
If our world was like the Garden of Eden, then this wouldn’t be such a bad thing, as humans would be forever sharing in one another’s peace and joy. Unfortunately, worldly life comes with difficulties, sadness, tragedy and loss, and as there are around eight billion humans dotted around the world, there’s an awful lot of compassion flowing around. These days, humans don’t just feel compassion towards their friends and family, or the folk that live in their local town or village. Because of your media, you learn about the hardship and suffering of others in every corner of the world, so that your feelings of compassion and empathy can become overwhelming….
Of course, if you want to, you can simply focus on your own life; you can choose to wear a thick skin and ignore the suffering of others around you. But that goes completely against the message of the Gospels. Jesus was all about looking out for, and helping others in need…...
“As He approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out – the only son of his mother, and she was a widow……. When the Lord saw her, His heart went out to her and He said: 'Don’t cry’.
Then He went up and touched the coffin and……. He said ‘Young man, I say to you get up! The dead man sat up and began to talk….”
(Luke 7: 12-13)
If only it was that easy for you all today! Instead, you face a dilemma. Because if you turn a blind eye to the suffering of others, then nothing will ever improve. Yet if you spend your whole day lamenting inside for everyone or everything that suffers, then you’ll soon burn yourself out. In fact, this happens to quite a few humans. The charity “Mind” has published figures suggesting that as many as 1 in 6 of all adult humans in England experience some degree of anxiety or depression in any given week. So what can you humans do? After all, you can’t change how the world is. No, but the secret is to navigate a course which means that you look out for others while also protecting yourself. And the only way to achieve this is to hand stuff over to God; to pray for the world and to pray for others in need. To pray for every individual situation that you can’t fix through money or personal effort. And to lift up the pain of others into God’s divine hands. And as you do it, to know that one day in the future, all will be well because our time here on Earth is just like a passing second when measured against the expanse of eternity in Heaven……
“The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others.”
(Albert Schweizer: [1875-1965] German-born theologian, writer, humanitarian, philosopher and physician)
“Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.” (Frederick Buechner: [1926-2022] American Presbyterian Minister and author)
“The most powerful force in the world that can change the lives of millions of people is compassion.”
(Steven Aitcheson [DOB unknown]: Current psychologist, author and social influencer based in Scotland)
“Africa, your sufferings have been the theme that has arrested and engaged my heart. Your sufferings no tongue can express, no language impart.” (William Wilberforce: [1759-1833] British politician and philanthropist who spearheaded the movement to abolish slavery in the British Empire)
“Therefore, …. clothe yourselves with compassion….”
“Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight.”