Tuesday, 26 February 2013

A Chaos Theory of Compassion

I was chatting with friends the other morning over coffee. The conversation turned to the news and its impact upon us and how some people we know just will not watch it any longer, for fear of being dragged down into a pit of despair. “All we ever see is bad news”, they say. So the reaction is to turn away in indifference. I’ve done it myself from time to time, especially if I’m feeling a bit blue. You see they don’t seem to ever report the good news.
I have also noticed another response to bad news, people who seem obsessed almost addicted to it; people who put on the rolling news whenever a disaster or something unpleasant has happened in the world. This cannot be good for us and I am sure that it only feeds into the fear and dread we already have about life. It can prove to us that the world is an unsafe place and people are not to be trusted. It feeds those feelings of suspicion that we can all have as we go about our daily business. It leads to us looking at each other with fear in our eyes. When we feel like this we are highly unlikely to smile at the stranger. Quite the opposite I suspect and in fact if they did smile I am sure we would view them with suspicion. I know I have in the past.

A friend said to me, as we were walking back from the coffee shop this morning, that what is needed is some kind of chaos theory of love and compassion; that we need to spread this out into the world. I agree and strongly believe that one smile or act of love from a person in Altrincham can to lead to an avalanche or tidal wave of love in some other part of the world. These weren’t his exact words by the way, but it’s what I heard him say. Wonderful words I thought from someone who use to be the king of cynicism. By the way while he may have been the king, I was once the emperor. He told me that some small gesture I had done a while ago had led him to do something similar and that hopefully that would lead to the other person doing the same. The acts individually were nothing much in particular, but who knows what kind of chain reaction they may eventually lead to.

It seems that everything that we do and everything that we don’t do, does in fact matter. Who knows what chain reactions we are all setting off with every feeling, thought, word and action; by the way who knows what chain reactions we are setting off by our lack feeling, thought, word and action too. Everything we do or don’t do has an impact on the world we live in. No one is truly passive, even if they are doing nothing.

Of course there are those who do try to spread the good news. I remember as a child that “The News at Ten” use to have an “And Finally” section at the end of its news bulletins. This would tell of a heart warming story. The comedian Russell Howard has a television series titled “Russell Howard’s Good News” this is a satirical look at the week’s events. Each episode ends with a section called “It’s not all doom and gloom”. This also shows a heart warming or courageous clip from the internet.

It’s not all doom and gloom and it’s great to see people like Russell making the effort instead of just descending into the lazy cynicism of so many of today’s comedians. There is sadness in this world, but there is also beauty, love, compassion, courage too. It’s just a shame that most of the modern media no longer believes that this sells. The News of the World may well have gone the way of the Dodo and the dinosaur but what it traded on is still going strong, stronger than ever it would seem.

Perhaps the real problem is that we have become unreceptive to the good news. Maybe we no longer have ears that hear.

In “The Parable of the Sower” Luke 8: vv 4-8 Jesus tells the crowd that the sower threw seeds on the path that were trampled on and eaten by birds; while other seed fell on rocky ground where the roots were weak and therefore the plants withered and died; still others fell on thorn and the thorns grew up and choked the plants; finally some fell on good soil where they thrived and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing...a hundred fold.

The great sages such as Jesus and Buddha spoke in parables in attempts to help people get to the deeper meaning of their message. These stories told the good news. They wanted the ears that heard to wrestle with what was being said and therefore come to a deeper understanding.

I believe that in the “The Parable of the Sower” Jesus his telling his followers that in order to hear the good news you need to become receptive to it.

I believe that every one of us has the potential for deep compassion as well as the potential for hatred and extreme selfishness. The key is to feed and develop that compassionate aspect of ourselves and then we can indeed impact positively on the world in which we live. I believe that the kingdom of heaven is within all of us, as is hell for that matter and that we can indeed build that kingdom here on earth; or we can build our own living hell here on earth. It really is down to how we all live our lives. “The Parable of the Sower”, programmes like Russell Howard’s, little conversations in coffee shops, smiling at the person that you pass on the street, passing on a good turn given to you can indeed lead to some kind of chaos theory of love and compassion.

Start spreading the news, we can change our world today.

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