Before this internship, I had never really thought about the word compassion. I thought of it as synonymous with the words kind, caring and nice. The words we would just throw around while describing something happy or lovely. Not like that’s a bad thing, but not particularly meaningful either. Over these past few weeks, I have discovered that this word holds a lot more power than I had been giving it.
Compassion for oneself, each other and the world is an integral part of a better future. Without taking time to reflect on oneself to acknowledge our positive characteristics or the progress needed in order to be the person we’d want to meet, we’re lost. Those who can think positively about situations will be able to do more because they’ll see options and opportunity rather than ruminating over obstacles. Of course this is a practice to continue working on and develop throughout life. Results might not always be apparent and time isn’t always in our favor but even a minute a day to stop, think and just be would be enough to make a difference.
Growing up in New York, I am surrounded by incredibly driven and ambitious people who consistently work hard and get work done. It was the only environment I knew until I went to Colorado College. It was there that I recognized the friendliness and healthiness the state had to show for itself. Surrounded by natural beauty and time to explore, I found myself more at peace and excited to see more. The act of being present has always been in my mind and I can happily say, being in Northern Ireland and in this internship, I can’t imagine another place or time I’d want to experience. My experience right now is the only one I have and can have so I shall gladly accept it and just be here. I aspire to travel to learn more and broaden my understanding of other cultures and people but I will always try to take my time to truly enjoy what’s in front of me. It’s a balance, like everything else in life.
Taking any time during day to be mindful would be so helpful for everyone and starting these practices in school would be ideal. Children are constantly being taught as students to fill with knowledge in hopes they contribute to society in some way. I’d like to see children being treated as humans with hearts and minds to activate and inspire. And various methods should be used to introduce compassionate practices because not every person is the same and there is a beauty in that. I believe in the humanist teaching theory, which empowers students to learn for themselves with the teacher more as a facilitator than authoritative figure. Compassion isn’t something to necessarily be taught but explored.
I understand the complexity of human research and the difficulties of measuring compassion but I definitely think a compassionate curriculum would be quite beneficial in schools. I don’t believe that it’s the sole responsibility of schools but rather the responsibilities of the world together to make efforts in these practices. Schools are a perfect place to start though. While watching the pilot program, ‘Educating the Heart’, implanted in Oakgrove Integrated College, I have seen the small but significant changes in these children being taught about compassion. Children are taught from a very young age lessons like ‘treat others how you would like to be treated’ and it seems like we forget how important these lessons are as we grow up. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy to do as it is said and I think we often need to remind ourselves how great it feels to be compassionate.
Children in Crossfire has taught me and introduced me to so many different compassionate methods and the organization exemplifies compassion so well. One of my favorite quotes is “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” The person who said this is up for debate but regardless, it’s true because nobody truly knows what other people are going through and comparing tragedies doesn’t help anyone get anywhere. There are a variety of issues people face each day but with a bit more of an understanding and care for each other, our days would be that much brighter.