When we develop care and concern by thinking of others not as ‘them’ but ‘us’, there is no room for bullying, exploitation or deceit.

When we develop care and concern by thinking of others not as ‘them’ but ‘us’, there is no room for bullying, exploitation or deceit. – Dalai Lama

Can you smile and say hello to everyone you meet? Even the 'icky' ones, the ones who are "them" not "us"?

Can you smile and say hello to everyone you meet? Even the ‘icky’ ones, the ones who are “them” not “us”?

What does that mean?
This is another ‘Big Family’ quote.

It starts by urging us to develop more care and concern for others. The quote implores us to think of others as part of at least our human family, if not as someone closer to us than that. If not part of our actual family, at least friends, or perhaps as acquaintances?

The quote urges us to not go tribal, to not split the world into an “us and them” scenario. Yes, it’s idealistic. Yes, it can be dangerous. But it is also noble and visionary. However, if we anticipate the worst, we will not be helping make things better, will we?

The quote concludes that we, when we treat all others as friends or family, will find that there simply is no way to bully them, if we honor them as one of ‘us’ instead of one of ‘them.’

The same for exploitation or deceit. It just cannot happen, if we truly value them, and treat them as if they were our friends, or even part of our family. And by treating them well, we reinforce our belief that they are us.

Why is compassion important?  
When I look at this quote, and wonder what I would need more of in order to be able to do what it says, and I came up with compassion. The more compassion I have, the more easily I can treat others as friends. When I’m lacking in compassion, it is more difficult.

Compassion is the foundation for so many other useful states, that it is something worth cultivating and improving even if you aren’t planning to use it for this quote.

Compassion is a fundamental part of love. It is also a necessary foundation for forgiveness. I find it a necessary part of tolerance and patience. So many parts of our lives seem based on the simple idea that others are the same as us. No better, no worse, and in need.

By showing them compassion, we help to heal the fractured and badly injured human family. With compassion as our guide, is there any place in our hearts for such acts as bullying, exploitation, or deceit? I don’t think so, do you?

Where can I apply this in my life?
We all can stand to improve our compassion, even if only a little bit. One of my favorite stories of compassion shown to me happened while I was riding my motorcycle. More precisely, I’d just stopped, and put my foot down. In tiny little gravel of a decaying parking-lot.

What happened next was inevitable. The foot, without traction, slid out from beneath me. Not having deployed the kick stand, I fell over, and so did the bike. Right in front of another biker. He could have laughed, as I’m sure it looked funny. I imagine the look on my face was priceless.

Instead, he walked over and asked if I was alright, and offered to help me get up, and then helped me get the bike up. That’s compassion. I later got to know him a bit better, and he’s a really nice guy, even though what he calls a smile looks like a scowl to everyone else.

When I remember times when others have shown compassion to me, I find it far easier to show compassion to others. Compassion is a powerful feeling, and the foundation of several major religions, as well as existing in other cultures, independent of religion.

The phrase “There but for the grace of God, go I.” is something I was taught when I was young. Bad things happen to good people. Then what? You’re suddenly out of a job, what do you do for food or shelter? Where do you turn? We can turn our back on these people, or we can show compassion.

Compassion is a choice. In my opinion, the proper answer is yes. True, it isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Sometimes it can be truly hard. But if we cannot treat others as if they have value, as if they have worth, what message are we sending about ourselves?

We can be compassionate. We can forgive. We can be tolerant and show at least a little patience. We can say no to bullying. We can refuse to exploit others. We can be truthful and refuse to be deceitful. All of these are choices. What choices will you make?

Each choice we make says something about us. Each choice helps us to better understand ourselves. Each choice helps define our character. Each choice says that we are a friend to others, or that we hold them as without value.

How will you be known? Will you treat others well, or will you treat them as outsiders, barbarians at your gates, and unwelcome, one of “them”? Or will we put in the effort, and show compassion, and treat them as one of “us”?

From: Twitter, @DalaiLama
confirmed at : it’s his own feed…
Photo by rasputin243

At my Alma Matter, they have the plaque shown in the picture at the top. Here are links to both another shot of the plaque, as well as a brief discussion about the tradition. (8th entry)

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3 Responses to When we develop care and concern by thinking of others not as ‘them’ but ‘us’, there is no room for bullying, exploitation or deceit.

  1. Teepee12 16 September 2013 at 2:28 am #

    The theory is that when we are able to identify, empathize with others, we cannot do them harm because they ARE us. Compassion — in this scenarious — grows from sameness, closeness. There is truth in that. I’m just not sure how much.

    People kill their brothers and sisters, parents and best friends. People kill themselves.

    • philosiblog 17 September 2013 at 5:13 am #

      I’m not sure how much of it can be applied either. It is an ideal, a perfect form to which we aspire. As flawed humans, we can attempt, we can approach, but will never quite get there.

      As for the killing, I think we can set those aside as a separate case. Some people have no capacity for compassion do to a mental difference. These are people with something seriously wrong, and not part of the usual or normal population.

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