By Betty Carpick
Humanity is navigating multiple trajectories for a world radically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate crisis threats. Our capacity to respond, recover, and to plan for a more resilient society hinges on expanding on our core qualities: compassion, kindness, and empathy.
We’re witnessing how a catastrophe of unimaginable scope is bringing out the best—and the worst—in people. While all of our daily routines and lives have been increasingly altered, the impact on people with preexisting vulnerabilities is particularly stark. For visible minorities, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, the elderly, the very young, the poor, the incarcerated, the medically and socially marginalized, and others, the effects are devastating. Paramount is the urgency in averting humanitarian, economic, security, and political consequences in fragile countries and global systems. When this is compounded by the bombastic approaches of some of the world’s most prominent leaders, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and emotional.
How we interact with humankind and our desire to make contributions as a global community is reflected in personal and communal levels every day. While it may not be easy, by cultivating and practicing compassion, kindness, and empathy—regardless of differences and commonalities of race, religion, language, traditions, gender, and socio-economics—we can demonstrate our capacity as humans to find solutions to problems.
The Dalai Lama says, “We must also remember that nobody is free of suffering, and extend our hands to others who lack homes, resources, or family to protect them. This crisis shows us that we are not separate from one another—even when we are living apart. Therefore, we all have a responsibility to exercise compassion and help.”
Photo by Maria Maria Photography
There are many compassionate or constructive acts that we can each do to show that we care for one another and the planet.
- Be compassionate, kind, and empathetic to yourself
- Take care of your family, friends, and colleagues
- Adhere to the recommended safety precautions such as staying at home, washing your hands, physical distancing, disinfecting, etc.
- Be patient with and encouraging to others throughout the day
- Make eye contact, share a smile, and give genuine compliments to strangers or loved ones
- Consider how you use words and language in person and online so that no one is stigmatized
- Support others in meaningful and practical ways by sharing, swapping, bartering, and paying it forward
- Reach out to the most vulnerable by giving through time, energy, and, if you’re able, money
- Understand, respect and value the labour of care by all workers, but particularly front-line workers, essential workers, and land and water stewards
Compassion, kindness, and empathy shape our individual and collective imprints on the planet. No act is too simple and no moment is too small to bring comfort and healing. By choosing what feels right for us and how we want to contribute, we can find intrinsic joy in the meaning of life, a sense of worth and purpose, and, perhaps, a strengthening of hope for today and future generations.