There are many levels of community, including local, national and global, and every community is made up of a diverse cross-section of humanity.
Too often we experience divisions within our community, because we have learned to focus on the differences between people, and feel separate from those who are not like us. When faced with “otherness” we may feel uncomfortable, or threatened, we may feel resentful, we may dismiss the other person as less valid than those who are more like ourselves. We may not always realise we are doing this. It can become habitual; second nature.
But our first nature is to connect compassionately. We have learned to separate ourselves, and we can unlearn it too.
When we look through the eyes of compassion, we see the common humanity between all people. We recognise that we have much in common, in spite of differences in gender, age, race, culture, and so on. When we live with compassion, we become curious about the lives of others of all kinds. We wonder what they have experienced.
We become interested in their stories, and we care.
As people from different backgrounds come together in the spirit of compassion, magic happens. The opportunity to learn about the lives of fellow human beings who live differently from us becomes a privilege. Our lives are enriched by the sharing of stories, and empathy, and so are theirs. A major focus of Compassionate Plymouth is the celebration of the rich diversity our city holds. We invite people to unite and we see first-hand the depth of communion that results as the mystery of otherness melts away and division is replaced by delight in precious new connections.
Tam Martin Fowles
Originally broadcast on BBC Radio Devon Pause for Thought