Recently I was listening to an audio-book “ daring greatly” and one quote by Pemma Choron that stuck out to me above the other many great points that she made. The quote was simply and eloquently spoken as:
“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
The essence of what he is saying is the simple truth that in order to experience true compassion for someone—what people desperately need—we must be willing to abandon our aloof disinterest and bare our own wounds as a human, to reveal our own weaknesses and vulnerabilities to them, and that the prerequisite to healing someone with our own compassion is to reveal that we are as wounded and broken as the person that we are seeking to console. The quote struck me because it answered the question I've been asking, “why is compassion so rare, why are people so afraid to be human?”
You see, for a long time now, I've been walking around and feeling a social disconnect with people. At times I've wondered if it is something about me, if there is something wrong with me that drives complete strangers from engaging me as a human, but the truth is that we are all afraid, afraid to bare out wounds with people, show up as a real person with all the real problems that face all people. Somewhere along the way, we as a society have bought into the idea that we are weak and ruined if we admit that we have weaknesses. But the truth is that having a weakness, to fall down and make mistakes does not reflect anything beyond that. The truth is that it takes extreme courage to show up as yourself—all of yourself not just the side that you think people are OK seeing. The truth is that it takes great strength to admit weakness. This strength is what is missing. I believe we are a people that has forgotten what it means to be human and have put up a front, a façade that we are strong. But in pretending to be strong, we are no longer being the strength that we all wholly need and want.