The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another. – Thomas Merton A month ago, I learned about 1000 Voices for Compassion on a Facebook thread, and it took me a few seconds to decide to join this blog movement. We’re each asked to write a personal blog post on compassion, and share it on February 20th.
As of yesterday there were 1002 voices, most likely more by now, and I’m happy to add my own blog to the growing list on the designated day. I love the idea of thousands of men, women, and children sharing their thoughts on compassion on one day. Of course, these outpourings would be wonderful every day, but the idea that positive, hopeful, and loving energy will emanate on that day from all corners of the globe warms my heart. It will be an outpouring of love that will connect us to each other in a common goal—showing compassion. Global warmth–what a beautiful thought during these trying times around the world.
In this age of ME, it’s easy to forget that our greatest accomplishments were not achieved alone. I took a weekend workshop on personal development where the facilitator asked us to list one personal accomplishment that didn’t involve one other person to achieve. A young man raised his hand and offered his higher education degree; no one helped him with that, he said. He told us how he’d studied hard, worked late, and had done it all on his own. The facilitator mentioned possible mentors, counselors, and the young man’s parents who’d probably paid some, if not all of his college tuition. The man cocked his head and sat down, perhaps thinking of how his soccer coach had instilled good habits and discipline on his team.
A fifty-year old woman stood up next and said, “I have the perfect accomplishment, and no one but me did this. I gave birth to two children!” The facilitator smiled at her. “Unless you had your children in the woods with a stick between your teeth, you didn’t do it alone.” The woman agreed. “And perhaps you had a sperm donor?” Well, my contribution to the discussion was going to be giving birth, as well! And try as I might, I couldn’t think of a single thing that I’d done alone in my life without the help of another person-not writing a book, learning to repair the commode in my old house, growing a garden, or raising my children.
We are all interconnected in a beautiful, magical way.
My feelings of love and protection toward my children are no different from mothers in Asia, Africa, or Europe. We kiss our children goodnight, soothe their fears, and offer encouragement. What about mothers who can’t offer their children clean drinking water, nourishing food, and safety against rebel forces? What about the suffering of women in male-dominated societies? Would we not feel the same anguish as the mothers of the kidnapped Nigerian girls who are still missing? What about the young men and women trafficked all around the world and in my country, the United States?
So yes, while February 20th will be a day of warm and fuzzy feelings, beautiful, heart-felt blog posts about compassion, let us not forget to show compassion, as well. To our neighbors, those less fortunate than ourselves, the marginalized, and the abused, who live next door, in our towns and cities, across borders and the ocean.
About the author:
Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s life experiences as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker, and a refugee case worker inspire her passion for writing. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago a second time. A Decent Woman is her debut novel. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children, and she lives in West Virginia.
Book synopsis of A Decent Woman, coming March 24, 2015
Ponce, Puerto Rico, at the turn of the century: Ana Belén Opaku, an Afro-Cuban born into slavery, is a proud midwife with a tempestuous past. After testifying at an infanticide trial, Ana is forced to reveal a dark secret from her past, but continues to hide an even more sinister one. Pitted against the parish priest, Padre Vicénte, and young Doctór Héctor Rivera, Ana must battle to preserve her twenty-five year career as the only midwife in La Playa.
Serafina is a respectable young widow with two small children, who marries an older wealthy merchant from a distinguished family. A crime against Serafina during her last pregnancy forever bonds her to Ana in an ill-conceived plan to avoid a scandal and preserve Serafina’s honor.
Set against the combustive backdrop of a chauvinistic society, where women are treated as possessions, A Decent Woman is the provocative story of these two women as they battle for their dignity and for love against the pain of betrayal and social change.