We Shouldn’t Be Applauded for Hurting with Those Who Hurt…That’s Our Human Duty (365 Days of Spirited Living — DAY 353)
“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is truly heartbreaking to see so many suffering people in the world. While I know that no one person can save everybody, I do think that we are all responsible for at least making the effort to alleviate some of the burdens that other people face. No two burdens are the same because no two people actually carry them or face them in the same why. That’s why we need uniquely collective empathy and compassion.
However, we do no favors when we “weep with those who weep”, hurt with those who hurt and even agree to walk in the shoes of another for any length of time. And because it is not a favor and we do nothing greater than what Jesus did when he was on earth and what Mother Teresa did when she was alive, we deserve no massive thanks, plaudits, promotions, rewards, or special recognition for doing so. We get no cheers or high-fives or back-slaps for sincerely feeling the feelings of others or carrying the burdens of others, if only for a little while.
There is this thing where some of us want to be recognized for helping. It is like we help because we want to help but only if a spotlight is shined on our efforts. That is no reason to help and those who help for these reasons or any other reason except for the good of the ones receiving the help should remove themselves from the assembly line of helpers and seek another profession. Attention is never the goal when people’s lives are on the line and real issues are at stake. Awareness and being conscious of our ability to help in some small way is the real blessing here.
What we lack most in the world is real empathy for others, real connection that causes us to naturally lean in to the pain of others. Instead of this attitude that says “not my problem, not my business”, we look at all the issues in the world and aim to sincerely understanding and give heartfelt help. And when we truly understand the human condition and that all people suffer and hurt, some more than others, we begin to open up to love and sacrifice. Not for a pat on the back or for attention or for applause but because it is our human duty to help, to serve, to give, and to love.
People always appreciate sincere help, but please let’s not make it patronizing. If you’re going to give help, let it come from deep down on the inside. If you can’t get your head around someone’s pain and lean in to their level of discomfort and hurt, then please don’t say anything. It does more harm than good. In this world, there will always be some level of suffering and hurt in which we will come face to face to in our own personal lives, in the life of someone else, on our radios, TVs, and social media timelines.
Suffering is all around us. We will, unfortunately, never be able to eliminate it completely not this side of heaven. The world is too fouled up for that to happen. But it is our human duty to respond to the hurts of others with our whole hearts. It is more like a one-on-one transaction, to come alongside and lift the burden of another and carry it. Because when the burden becomes ours, the publicity becomes less inviting. Cicero said it right, “Not for ourselves alone are we born.”
So when we see little sick children being bombed in their own country’s hospitals and parents searching wearily and warily for their loved ones in open streets and morgues and young teenagers are robbed of life in the middle of the streets and mothers have to lay their young children to rest way before their time and whole cities are demolished with people inside and families feel hopeless and helpless when the sound of gunfire and artillery fire drowns out their voices, let the love flow and the help drain us dry but don’t allow yourself to become complacent and succumb to an egregious form of helping that is on display for the sake of being seen as a great individual and not at all for the sake of love and compassion.
We become the best people we can be by what we do for others when no one knows, recognizes, looks, or realizes. Help with no applause at the end. Love with no crowd. Carry your brother’s and sister’s burdens with no plaque sealed in gold letters. Lean in to the suffering of people far, far away without seeking praise. No acclamation. No admiration. No commendation. No favors. It is a heartfelt kind of living and loving, serving and giving. Because hurting with those who hurt is our human duty and heartfelt privilege.
“Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love.”
— Mother Teresa