So, while training my early AM client this morning, we got into a discussion about compassion and considerateness. She was recalling an incident that happened to her one day on the train. She got dizzy, and began teetering on her feet. Another passenger saw her swaying and that her eyes were glazing over, and came to her aid. Seeing that it was mere seconds before the girl would just totally collapse, the helper asked a man sitting in the seat nearest to them if he would please let my client sit down in his seat before she hit the floor. The man angrily and adamantly refused, saying "why don't you ask someone else?" My client said that the man was about in his 50's. He sat there glaring, refusing to even consider getting up, even though my client was visibly ill and fading fast. Someone else finally got up and offered their seat. I found that man's reaction shocking.
"Oh, that's nothing compared to what happened to a friend of mine on the train" she informed me while my mouth was still agape at her own story. According to her, another friend of hers, who is extremely anemic, has been known to flat out pass out cold with no warning on occasion. One day she passed out on the train right in front of the doors. Upon seeing her hit the floor, no one rose to help her. People actually stepped over her to get in and out of the train. She recalls waking up, still lying on the floor, and spying an empty seat nearby, she pulled herself up off the floor and sat down. The other passengers on the train barely raised an eyebrow. She said that one lady did ask if she was okay after she was already seated. But what I can't get past is the fact that THEY STEPPED OVER HER instead of stopping to see if she was okay. Okay? Wow.
Now, I know that these streets have gotten pretty mean these days, and to find someone that gives one whit what happens to you when you're out there is not the most common thing in the world. But I'm thinking that we've gone a looong way down the wrong road when it comes to how we treat each other lately. Just the other day, I saw a pregnant woman on a crowded train. She was so pregnant that I was feeling some pains! Well, not one person offered up a seat, and there were plenty of men on that train, seated right by her. Whatever happened to that seemingly more extinct by the day species, better known as 'the gentleman'? I no longer expect them to hold open doors, because in this city, it's really 50/50 on that, but in some cases, yes, you should try to be considerate of others, male or female. I, myself, was standing, and when I got off the train a few stops later, so still was she.
So, I've been wondering what makes certain people compassionate and caring, and others callous and unconcerned? Is it a natural part of your personality and self, or is it something learned? I know that psychopaths and sociopaths lack the ability to have compassion, in most cases, but that's a biological aberration, right? What about people with normal brains and psyches? What either makes it happen or not happen for them? I really wonder.
I know that I'm compassionate a lot of the time, but not always. It depends on the circumstance. Seeing a disabled person needing help or someone missing a limb or who is horribly disfigured is an instant compassion trigger for me, but a bum begging on the street that looks healthy enough to work doesn't stir my heart at all. Maybe it's because I'm judging them. You can't judge someone who is disabled, right? I'm also wondering if that's part of the puzzle. Are we more able to be compassionate towards some people, but not so much towards others? Are we predisposed to view some people as more worthy of help than others? And once again, is it natural, or is it learned? I don't remember my parents teaching me to be compassionate, but they did teach me to be polite. Perhaps that was what helped form my ability to be considerate, and thereby, compassionate, but I would also like to think that I'm just naturally like that.
So, what do you think? Does compassion exist naturally within you, or is it learned? Does it manifest itself (or not) during a specific time of your own development as a person? Do we all start out with it, and then, through various life experiences, either lose it or develop even more of it? Does it fade with age and time?
Seeing the way so many people seem to have very little of it these days really makes me wonder. Food for thought!