Whether the act of giving selflessly to another can ever be truly altruistic or is instead merely a consequence of the desire for personal reward is a complex and intriguing debate which continues to fascinate me: are we born with the ability to care for others or is it something we are taught as a result of our environment?
Personally, I believe that the ability for humanity to spread kindness and goodwill on both a national and global scale is an ingrained part of our natural design. Through giving to others, we benefit not only them but an entire community – it is a sustainable, nurturing and enriching act which in turn can only generate further joy, emphasising how even the smallest actions can have incredibly powerful consequences. However, while the personal sense of self-fulfilment that comes from participating in a charity event, buying lunch for a homeless person or volunteering for a peaceful organisation is undeniable, I believe that we are motivated to help others by more than our own gain.
Knowing that we have helped others in even some small way is so rewarding, yet I continue to hope that the reason we are so quick to reach out in a time of crisis and negativity is because of our true inner selflessness and urge to ensure the safety and happiness of others due to our natural capacity for care and compassion. The support offered by so many in the wake of recent events such as Hurricane Harvey and the floods in Texas, the way bystanders have put their own lives at risk during terrorist attacks around the world, and the continued brilliance of emergency, health and social services continues to inspire me and emphasise the fact that compassion is not a consequence of social pressure, self preservation or self reward. The danger and strain that so many people willingly put themselves through to help others reflects the global phenomenon of the power of care, love and optimism that radiates through neighbourhoods and continents even in troubled times.
I would argue that the ability to be compassionate is our human superpower, our gift to each other and ourselves. For many of us, though there will always be exceptions, there are almost no barriers to us exercising this ability to be kind and to care and to spread happiness as far and as often as we can, in whatever form that may take. Whether it’s accompanying an elderly neighbour to the shops, working as part of community efforts in deprived areas around the world to provide housing, food or water, or even simply smiling and complimenting someone, we have taken the time to attempt to help others and positively impact them. All it takes to make someone else’s day, even to save their life, is a few moments of consciousness and awareness.
Compassion is our human superpower – one almost all of us are able to exercise on a daily basis. It is incredible what can be achieved when the strength of caring, nurturing and aiding others is demonstrated, and striving to be more mindful of how we can contribute to the happiness of others through our words and actions is one of the easiest ways we can begin this journey towards a more peaceful and harmonious human experience. It is not only in times of distress (though then it is most crucial) that we should aim to explore the depths of kindness. Being compassionate to others and ourselves is one of the most fulfilling ways in which we can achieve inner peace and a more connected, sustainable society.