It is amazing how many people sense the depth and intensity of compassion buried within when they come to India. I watched in fresh new ways how a range of people reacted to the scenes around them during the past few days. The range of emotions spanned from anger to frustration to compassion to sheer bafflement! Every emotion was wrapped with a desire to help make a difference and feeling absolutely powerless to do something that would make a difference; every piece of anger offset by the sheer complexity and magnitude of the situation; every ounce of compassionate energy twisted into knots and left lying in the pit of their stomachs.
As I listened to their questions I realized that they only saw the surface. Nothing of the India I know had gotten through. They missed the sparkle of hope found in the eyes of the children living on the streets. Absent from their views was the inside of the shacks beside stagnant waters full of poisons. Gone from their views was the sheer numbers, multiplying at exponential rates that defy comprehension. Clearly they did not see or understand Joel’s advice when looking at the situation.
First, see everything with an open mind. See the good, observe and understand the ugly, work to comprehend the nuances whatever they might be. If there is any doubt listen to Joel’s description of what was around him. “Vineyards dried up, fig trees withered, pomegranates, date palms, and apple trees—deadwood everywhere! And joy is dried up and withered in the hearts of the people.” (Joel 1.12)
Second, think what you could do! It isn’t enough to just understand, one must act. The incredible part is that it doesn’t start on the outside – it starts with your heart and mine. We can make a difference, if only to ourselves. Do we live for others? Do we strive to reveal compassion and mercy? Is acceptance at the core of who we are?
If not, what are we sharing? How can we help? Life is about making a difference, one by one.