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Being Our Best Selves Helps Other People Aspire to be Their Best Selves

If we are kind people, often we run across unkindness in our lives. It can cause us to live down to social expectations and sell ourselves short. We can allow ourselves to be made less. We can do the bare minimum in difficult situations, or we can do nothing at all. And it wouldn't be unusual.

For example, if a homeless person is walking around and asking people for coins, and we see someone else ignore them, we will be more likely to do the same. However if we were alone, we may be more likely to help.

We all do have a deep well of compassion within ourselves, however, it can feel difficult to tap into this all the time. The more we practice using our compassion muscle in our brains, the more used to it we will become. Then, it becomes easier to practice compassion in our daily lives.

When we don't help

When faced with difficult circumstances, most people stand by and do nothing when they are in large groups. It is called the bystander effect.

According to Psychology Today,

The bystander effect occurs when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening in an emergency situation, against a bully, or during an assault or other crime. The greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is for any one of them to provide help to a person in distress. People are more likely to take action in a crisis when there are few or no other witnesses present.

It's like that song, "In the air tonight" by Phil Collins. If someone sees something go badly, they are likely to do nothing. They are likely to just stand there and watch events unfold without intervening. It is basic human nature and self-preservation.

We want to be our best and brightest selves in our hearts, but we also want to be accepted by our peers. And sometimes, that desire for acceptance wins out.

We don't help the people that need our help the most because it isn't easy or expedient. We don't show the goodness of our hearts because to do so is difficult. We hold back our help from the needy because we know that others among us think that they are undeserving.

But would you rather take the risk and help someone who is undeserving, than to help someone, and know that you have made a real difference? Too often, it comes down to a question of politics. Are they on my side? Are they on the 'other' side? Are they right? Are they wrong? Are they deserving?

Everyone is deserving of help and kindness.

I firmly believe that. Everyone deserves the best of ourselves. Everyone deserves love and compassion for their situation.

There are people in war-torn Ukraine today who need our help. They need our compassion. They need our assistance. And they don't just need some tanks to take back their cities either. They need compassion in the places that they are today.

Here in Germany, German language classes are full because there are so many refugees. Even out here in the country. There are hundreds of people who are displaced from their homes, taken away from where they want to be. They are suffering. They are struggling. Do we have compassion for them?

Or do we just walk past the faces of those who are suffering and do nothing? Do we see the man on the street corner asking for a coin and help him, or do we walk on by?


Recognizing our privilege

There are hundreds of thousands of people across the world that are less fortunate than ourselves here in Westernized countries. If not the refugees, then the homeless. If not the homeless, than those in villages without food, water, education and medicine.

There are people across the world that are suffering. Do we see them? Do we see their plight? Oftentimes we don't. Oftentimes, we don't even see the plight of those suffering right in front of us.

How do we change that? How do we become more compassionate? How do we cave into the well of our beings and find some goodness there?

It can be exhausting to care about other people. It can take all of our brain power to try to understand the politics that have made their suffering take place. We can question the power structure and ask why Washington or something similar isn't doing something.

But the real question is, why aren't WE doing something? Why do we care so little for our fellow man? Why do we not see their common humanity and reach out a hand to help them? What is it that stops us?

Ignoring those who are suffering

You see this all the time with rape victims. It is so much easier to blame the victim than to do something to the perpetrator. You say, "Boys will be boys" and you just move on to slut-shaming the victim and asking what she was wearing. But it is seldom that simple.

What about the girl who was raped when she was passed out behind a dumpster? What about the boys who assaulted her? Why didn't they try to help the poor girl instead of thinking about her just as a piece of ass?

Why is it so easy for us to dehumanize other people? Why do we see them as so different from ourselves? It lets us forget compassion. It lets us forget that we have a responsibility to help someone. It lets us just walk by and feel nothing.

That is what we want to feel instead of caring. We want to feel nothing. Feeling nothing is easy. It absolves us of any responsibility for what is happening around us. It allows us to look the other way and do nothing...

It is like the biblical story of the Good Samaritan. The priest walks by the man who was beset by robbers on the other side of the street. So does the scribe. But the foreigner takes pity on the man and helps him.

Jesus asks us to be like the good Samaritan. He askes us to have care and compassion for our fellow man. Yet people who claim to follow Jesus walk by every day past those who are suffering and they do nothing. What is that?

He who has ears to hear, let him hear and heed My words. ~ Matthew 11:15

Some people will hear what they are supposed to hear and do nothing. Some people will know what is the right thing to do and they will do nothing. They will live down to the world's expectations of them. They will forget who they are. They will forget their responsibility to their fellow man.

Jesus also said,

Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39).

How easily we forget. How easily we become less than our true nature. How easily we forget that all people are worthy, beautiful, and deserving of compassion and love.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

When you forget yourself, when you stop being the best in yourself, how can you expect to lift anyone else up? How can you expect those that are suffering to lift themselves up by the bootstraps out of the mud when you refuse to help them?

You are spitting in the face of god himself when you refuse to help your fellow man. Especially when you acknowledge that he is suffering.

Passing Judgement on Others

Yet, you just tell yourself that he deserves his own suffering and move on. You tell yourself that this "other" is less than yourself, so that you can countenance your crimes of apathy. You not just walk the other way, but you spit on him with contempt as you walk past.

Not only are you not compassionate, you tell the one who is suffering that he deserves his plight. That he has brought it on himself. That he isn't as good, or worthy, or deserving as you are. You tell him that he has brought on his life by being less than good enough.

You condemn him to this life of suffering by your own hatred. You would strike him down with your own hand. Not only do you lack compassion, but you have gone the other way in your arrogance. You think yourself better than someone else. You think that these least of us that are suffering are unworthy.

2For with the same judgment you pronounce, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3Whydo you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to notice the beam in your owneye?4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while there is still a beam in your own eye?… ~ Matthew 7:2-4

What is it that makes you think that you are so much better than someone else? What gives you the right to pass judgement on them? You are the same, if not worse, than those who suffer through no fault of your own, when you walk right by them and spit in their faces.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

We need to have compassion

We have to do better. We have to be better. We need to have compassion to move our world forward.

We can't just keep walking on by those that are suffering and spitting on them telling them that they deserve it. They deserve better. And we can BE better. Let's show the world how it's done. Let's show them how to have love and compassion for our fellow man.

We need to be the best of ourselves to reach down and help those that are suffering and in need. Otherwise, our world is never going to get any better.

Showing compassion and caring for people can go a long way toward making the world better. Compassion improves you as a person when you are practicing it. And of course it helps the other person too. But it makes the world as a whole better too.

You are showing an example of goodness in the world, and it is helping not only the one person you have helped, but you have shown an example for everyone who is watching you help that person.

My hope and prayer for you today is that these words have touched you and made you want to look at others in a more compassionate way. I hope that if someone asks you for help this week, you will find your self being able to help them.

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