Tag Archives: compassion

Be less judgmental and be more compassionate


It seems to me that there’s been an increase in vitriol and hatred around the world, from the US / North Korea posturing, to the far right protesters in the US, to comments closer to home on Facebook.

I live on a relatively new estate, and at the moment it seems blighted by vandals and antisocial behaviour. Just this weekend, different people have reported, via Facebook:

  • capturing some youngsters (12 or 13 year olds) on CCTV after midnight deliberately breaking trees in their front garden
  • that their brand new home has been vandalised a matter of weeks before they were due to move in
  • that the lights outside their house were stolen and smashed further up the street
  • finding a dirty nappy (diaper) in their garden, apparently thrown there by the toddler next door

The first three are criminal acts, but the last one was probably an accident as the toddler may not have known what the impact of they were doing was.

In all these cases, the comments left by others on the estate have been abhorrent, from suggesting that the youngsters have their legs broken to pushing the contents of the nappy back through the neighbour’s letterbox. Just think about it. Suggesting that children are deliberately crippled for an act of vandalism.  Pushing excrement through a letter box because of something that was an accident, rather than talking to the parents. Really? What is wrong with these people?

As inflammatory comments were left following each report on Facebook, people seemed to be feeding off each other, off the negative energy. With the first incident, I asked if anyone had notified the police and / or got social services involved, but that was met with stony silence. More vitriolic comments followed, but to my knowledge the authorities were not contacted. Instead, the community just got more incensed, conveniently ignoring my suggestion.

We don’t know what circumstances have led to children of that age being out after midnight without their parents. We don’t know what drove someone to vandalise a nearly new house, or to take someone’s property and break it. Maybe it was boredom, maybe it was seen as “fun”, maybe there was a long standing connection between the perpetrators and the victims. The point is, until you know WHY something happened, how can you comment constructively or with any kind of reasoning? To comment without knowing the full facts from all sides makes no sense. It leads to people being judgmental based on their own biases and perceptions. That can’t be right, it can’t be helpful and it can’t be healthy for anyone involved.

Yes the vandalism and other acts should not be tolerated, but the best way to deal with them is to provide evidence to the police and let them sort it out, bringing in other agencies like social services if necessary. Mob rule and vigilante justice is just not on. We as a community should be better than that. We as humans should be better than that. Is this really the way to build a community? Is this really the way people want to live?  Is this how to build a society we can be proud of? Try showing a little compassion and kindness instead.

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It’s good to be complimentary

Ever since the Scottish Independence Referendum, through the Brexit vote and now with another election looming in the UK, my Facebook feed has been filled with people ranting and making angry comments about all manner of stuff.  Not just about politics, but it seems like nearly all walks of life and all situations are represented in these rants. There seems to be so much rage, but why?  

So much of it seems to be about First World problems. You know what I mean – too much salt on their chips, not being able to find the right colour tie to go with their shirt, not being able to find the exact flavour of coffee they want in a store with 25 different types on sale.  
In the grand scheme of things, with poverty, hunger, lack of safe drinking water, homelessness etc globally, why are people sweating the inconsequential stuff, and why are they getting so angry about it? 

I’ve just come back from a trip to the Middle East, and one thing that struck me was that, irrespective of who I was meeting, people were unfailingly complimentary before the meeting ended: even the staff in hotels, car drivers etc were friendly and polite to a level which is unusual here in the UK – in my experience at least. What was odd – and bad I think – was that I found it so difficult to be as polite in return, particularly at the end of meetings. In the UK, behaviour like that is seen as “over the top”, “too much”, “sycophantic” or plain “ass-kissing”.

But here’s the thing. Why is that? What’s so wrong with telling people how much you’ve enjoyed spending time with them, how you appreciate them taking time out of their day to talk to you?  I’m getting better at it, but will no doubt have to remember not to do it here in the UK as it’s “just not done”.   Isn’t it better than calling people out on things like their looks, their fashion sense, their choice of music – whatever doesn’t meet your standards.  
A little kindness costs nothing, and it makes the giver and receiver of those words feel better. Surely that’s a really good thing? 

A question of success

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Here’s a question!  How do you define success?  Are you successful? How do you know?  Dee and I have been talking about this for a while, and she uses the following quote in one of her wellbeing talks:

Success is no longer defined in the traditional manner. It is defined by how much passion and joy each one of us can experience on a daily basis.

Steve Rother

Have you made a success of your life if you have a fancy car, a big house, countless holidays, but you’re deeply unhappy?  Does that count?  Or is success really about overcoming all the obstacles which have been placed in your path, to leave you surrounded by love and family? Is being successful still being married after many years, though there’s no love or happiness in the marriage? Is success determined by how others see you, or is it determined by how you see yourself? Or is success all about removing the things that are not joyful so you can spend your time with the things that are?

I recently had cause to think about this question because of two people I met.

The first had been brought up in a “normal” family home, and on the face of it had all they could want: love, attention, clothes, food on the table, no poverty, no abuse, no real big issues.  Yet when I met them they’d become consumed by bitterness and anger, to the extent that I couldn’t spend time with them to find out what had caused those feelings.  They were obnoxious and seemed to take joy in insulting anyone and everyone they spoke to.  They’d had years of ill health and stress, but their behaviour seemed to me to be making further health issues more likely, not less.  Ill health had forced a semi-retirement status on them, and their marriage had failed.  I haven’t discounted the possibility that those are all reasons for the anger and bitterness, and I’m trying to be compassionate when I think that the person could be happier.

The second person had not had a great start in life, had had to literally fight for anything and everything they could get.  Now, for all there were apparent anger issues which seemed to be well under control, they had a family (including grandchildren), a “decent” job and a position in that job that commanded respect.  Life hadn’t been easy, but they’d made the best of it, worked hard and seemed to be doing well for themselves: not necessarily in a financial way, but definitely in terms of being surrounded by love and joyfulness.  Being totally honest, seeing how this person had turned out made me quite emotional: they were truly awesome in my eyes, having apparently beaten the odds to become who they are now.

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I’m not sure I have any answers for you, probably just more questions.  I don’t believe that material goods have anything to do with defining whether you’re successful or not. I think that for me, success is about being happy in yourself, about having a positive effect on others. It’s about doing good because that’s the right thing to do, not because that’s what your neighbours, peers or society expect you to do. It’s not about being seen by others to do be doing well, it’s about being honest with yourself and knowing that you are happy and content.