Compassion?

Today being Valentine’s day and all, let us contemplate love. Not lovey-dovey love, but proper bloody compassion, and thinking about your fellow man.

Last weekend Clare and Jiannis were running to get an underground train they had heard come into the station. There was a blind man on the platform asking for help as London Transport staff had abandoned him on the wrong side of the station, he knew by listening to the announcements he was in the wrong place on the wrong platform, but couldn’t risk walking anywhere in case he fell. People all around him were barging him out the way to get up the stairs or onto the platform; despite him standing with a cane, and asking for help. Clare stopped, took hold of his hand, guided him to the other platform, saw him onto the train, then turned back to her platform, where three trains had been and gone while they got him sorted. They missed getting to where they wanted to on time, but as she said ‘Who cares?!’

First up, what employee of a public service, who has supposedly been hired to look after people who have difficulty travelling on public transport, abandons their charge, job half done?

Secondly, what were the soul-less, miserable people doing walking past him? I suffer, and I mean some days truly suffer, on the underground to get to work. I made people laugh before Christmas, because one guy was so determined to get on the tube – I said that he had to have been a brain surgeon rushing to his patient, otherwise why bounce off and shove people out the way to get to his big job in the City? There is one guy with a rucksack and blue fleece, who will again shove and push to get onto the tube in a space that isn’t really there, every single day? WHY? I love my job (most of the time), but I get on the train when I can, and yes I can get annoyed when I am running late. My life is too short to shove, although I can make myself big when people shove in front of me, I nearly always have a bag and another bag with lunch and things in, so will make myself a bit bigger when people are rude, but it’s more because of their rudeness than anything else. 90% of people who get on the tube wait patiently, and calmly to get on.

If someone is lost in the part of London I work in, I will always stop and ask if they need help. Even if I only point out where they are, that is half the battle won. I have lost count of the amount of times I have checked someone is ok, be it in my former life as a swimming teacher/lifeguard, or for someone who has gone base over apex. But so many people will just walk on by, eyes averted.

If this world is teaching us something in this day and age, it is that for all our differences, we humans are all the same. Cut us we bleed, leave or hurt us we feel sad, feed us we feel grateful to you for sharing, hug us we feel warmth and love. For all the wars and atrocities that are being fought all over the world, all the religions that people are up in arms over ‘My God is better than your God!’ all the religions tell you to be good, kind and compassionate to your fellow man, not rip people’s lives apart because they feel differently about things than you do. Be kind to others, do unto others as you would do unto yourself.

So all of you people coming into contact with strangers tomorrow, smile at them. If they think you are odd, so what, getting a smile back is lovely. If you see someone looking lost, sad or worried, ask if they are ok. And if someone is pissing you off, don’t rise, don’t retaliate, walk away or better still, say ‘Thank you’. It un-nerves people, and highlights their behaviour better than a scowl will.

I watched a documentary about an American children’s hospital, one surgeon said ‘You haven’t had a bad day until you have told a parent their child has died’. Use this bench mark to put your job into perspective, I do – yes I can scream in frustration, and do at times, but at the end of the day – I move paper and people around London.

I am looking into religion at the moment, not trying it on for size, and one of the most interesting ones is Quakers. They believe everything you need to worship, is within you. Look within you to see whether you have everything you need to treat people better. You can change your day by being nicer, kinder and better. See if you can snowball it on, pay it forward….

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