These past couple of days I have meditated upon our ability to be compassionate towards each other within a number of circumstances.
On Monday night, I found out about the passing of actor Robin Williams, and my heart was quite sad after hearing the news. I am not the kind of person that obsesses with celebrities; in fact, my mother always made it a point to teach us to look at everyone as mortal humans and beautiful souls; regardless of their social status. I believe this has allowed me to give consistent treatment to anyone from a homeless out in the streets, to a powerful public figure.
I have read and watched different reactions on the topic; especially around the fact that Mr. Williams' dead is attributed to suicide, and the fact that he was undergoing depression. I understand many of the points being made, and many with great intentions, but what I believe many of these opinions are lacking, is compassion.
I believe that before we go on to express our own minds and sentiments, we must stop and suffer with those we are referring to. We must arrive to a place of understanding, and continue from there. I believe we must first assume the best in each other, and offer objective viewpoints afterwards. As Brené Brown describes within her many studies of vulnerability; we are in dire need of being truly compassionate, empathic, and authentically human.
I would like to leave you with words from one of our dear team members, currently residing in Copenhagen. She has pondered about the same topic, and offers a point of view from a spiritual standpoint; which I believe has great value and invites us to compassion:
-- Her words were written spontaneously and from the heart; and are shared below, without edition.
I've seen so many; too many, posts and articles about depression today, and none satisfy me. I've attended two funerals of people lost to #suicide. A year ago I asked a bishop in Rio de Janeiro about it, specifically about a teen from my church that we miss very much. I failed at fighting back tears as I faced my own confusion (and a bit embarrassed holding a mic in front of the international audience). He replied so softly that it hurt. "I am so sorry this happened. We can only do our best. But we are not God. God is God. Trust him." (OK, it sounded better when he said it) There are some places so dark that we cannot understand. But God can. He isn't only in the light. He meets us wherever we are. He's there too, with those people that are completely lost and hopeless. Only God knows those hearts. And only He can judge. And I begin to understand that only He can love with perfect love. We are so bad at it when it's not easy! It makes us so mad when some can get away with not living up to our standards of holiness and then receiving mercy. Our confusion and our stubbornness in understanding and judging everything can be our enemy, even when we have the best intentions. If God, the most just and powerful, is LOVE, his mercy is greater than anything we can imagine. It takes a big dose of humility, faith, and trust to understand that. We are so much like the prodigal son's brother. Of course, we shouldn't downplay suicide. I was especially disturbed by those quoting Aladdin telling Genie (voice of Robin Williams) that he has been set free. There is no freedom in feeling that your existence is not important. It is a prison for that person and for the people left behind to grieve. But instead of focusing on that darkness, we can focus on something we can do and can understand: light! hope! If we are so privileged to know and live light and hope and are not privileged to understand suicide, maybe, just maybe, what we should do is share that light and hope with those contemplating suicide. It comes in so many ways and many times; in the little things, and the big and precious thing called: sharing your time! Maybe it won't always be enough. But then maybe, just maybe, we can bring joy into their lives. Maybe it will disappear quickly, but maybe it won't! Maybe it will stay, and maybe it will heal a little wound you didn't know was there. Maybe you could save a life. Imagine that! That's all I understand and that's all I can do, and by doing just that, I will witness God be God and our hearts renew.
Cynthia M. currently resides in Copenhagen, Denmark; working within the communications team at the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office in Europe. She is a great ambassador of everything that is good, true, and beautiful.