Apr 21, 2014

Compassion without action is useless

The worst feeling is when you share someone's burden in your heart, yet cannot do anything to help. I felt that so acutely today. Pris sprung into action, knew the things to do, called for tissue. MMJ was already on his phone, giving out the what and where. And all I could do was sit there, wishing I could do something. What's the point of compassion when it cannot translate into action?

"Why don't we all go for a break now," she said, and we all filed out because it was the right and respectful thing to do, in stunned silence. After a while commotion started picking up again, people wilfully moving on, but the toilet conversations were still of care. And I couldn't ignore the weight. She noticed me standing there and came by with a "hey, you alright?" and gave me a long, very long hug. Ten minutes must have gone by, and I stood there motionless, soaking in the sturdy warmth of another person, letting her strength become my own. People walked by. Laughter. Coffee. I hope he's fine, I said, but it was more than that. It was a regret at not being able to help. And look, wasn't this ironic. It wasn't me who was in need, and yet I became needy when I should have been able to help a need.

I thought back at all the times I was in pain, and someone around me knew exactly what to do to relieve it. Mostly my parents. But it made all the difference in the world that someone could help me when I was completely helpless. And I wished I could do the same. I wished I could get over myself, get over my own anxiety and step into summoned courage because someone needed it.

I'm saying this here because I don't want to fall back on my commitment: I will take up a first-aid course this year. I will get over my own fears, fight the trauma and the nausea that another person's discomfort causes me to feel, and be useful. So people say I'm a very compassionate person but all that goes on within yourself is useless when it can't translate into anything positive on the outside.


Michael Ho said...

Tt was exactly the feeling I had as a teenager, coming across motorcyclist sprawled on the ground, his head cradled on someone's legs, his ear filled w blood... WHAT DO I DO? WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HV BLOOD IN YR EARS?? Crowd not doing anything, because people who don't know what to do, will not do so in case it makes matters worse... Guess who was among the most attentive n truly earnest in the 1st aider's course when it came my way...Yr resolution just made sense of this experience you had, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

That you want to do something is the first step, learning is the second but the hardest step, sometimes, is to know that sometimes not helping is the biggest help. Especially if there's nothing to offer.