Keeping Compassion Alive
03 September 2014
There was a Blue Sea Film festival in my local town this weekend. They showed many short films and other films that have received merits around the world. I managed to take time to see one film: Thousand Times Goodnight. It describes the story of a mother who works as a war reporter and she travels abroad to areas of conflict whilst her husband works at their home town and looks after their children. After a serious injury in a bomb blast she tries to quit her job and return back to home. She realises for the first time how much her family fear for her well being whilst she is away. She has a deep battle of emotions because she has a great passion for her work. Through her pictures and reports she believes that she can change the world and make people understand the issues when they see proof via photographs. If she does not do her job, she feels many issues of injustice are not recorded and therefore do not get corrected. She feels that people who suffer need her more than her own family. Through a painful process the family learns to accept her choice.
I feel that this is a story that touches many of us who have a similar strong calling to our work. From my experience working with addicts, it is sometimes hard to explain why we bother to walk the extra mile with somebody who does not even seem to appreciate the support we are proving them. Why do we compromise our own time? Why are we willing to compromise our responsibilities with our own families in order to follow our mission? Compassion can sometimes blind us so we keep working hard, as if we were all alone to deal with the issues that need attention. I believe that there is a possibility to find a middle ground in this issue. We need to be able to set boundaries, even to our compassion. Everyone has a different ideal for work and home balance but all of us need rest and an opportunity to receive, rather than give all the time.
There is a lot of talk today about work-life balance in our Western societies, and as most countries aim to lengthen working careers, it is becoming an even more important issue. In order to follow our compassion we need to be able to adapt to our changing life situations continuously. Being compassionate does not need to look the same when we are 50 as it did when we were 20. We change; society changes and people around us change too. Sometimes the compassion may even disappear and that is the time in life to make an honest review and take necessary corrective measures. We need to manage our lives, full of pressures and competing demands: mobile phones, e-mails, information are all part of our environment and we need to manage the use of them. Our health: physical, emotional and spiritual needs also require vital attention and effort. Family, friends and colleagues create our social network and this needs managing too. All these aspects and many more affect our ability to enjoy our work and they shake our life balance. I challenge you to write a list of your top 5 priorities in your life presently, and then give them a score 1-5 to describe how well you managing them. Then it is time to reflect and make corrective actions as necessary... Let’s keep our compassion alive!
Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least. -Goethe-