There has been an outpouring of tremendous world-wide empathy showered on France since the terrorist attack on Paris. On this sentiment it seems all people agree. Beyond that, we fall into a chasm of differences. Over where we should place our attention. Over borders and refugees and immigration and political policy. Over ideology and religion. There are hundreds upon hundreds of blogs stirring up hate, defining us separate from them, each new headline fueling the fire of terror. But none of those charged issues are my concern in this post. I just want to reflect on a more humane reaction. A reaction that elicits compassion. “Empathy is a gateway to compassion. It’s understanding how someone feels, and trying to imagine how that might feel for you — it’s a mode of relating. Compassion takes it further. It’s feeling what that person is feeling, holding it, accepting it, and taking some kind of action” (Chandler).
As quickly as most of us could shed our initial tears hearing about the attacks, this ink drawing was created by Jean Jullien, a French artist living in London; he shared this simple ink and brush illustration of the Eiffel Tower merged with a peace sign to his Instagram and Twitter accounts. Before dawn his inspired image blew up all over social media, and even landed here on my simple blog. What I love about Jullien’s drawing, beyond its simplicity and immediacy, is the genuine expression of empathy it manifests by connecting these two iconic images.
I am proud how Paris is signaling the world by turning their lights back on. Yes, they must mourn, but they will recover. This is what we need to remember today, and tomorrow, that together, we must all turn on the light and shine into every dark and foreboding place and find a way to move forward together. No lectures, no posturing, just humanity. Creating compassion without borders.
Tonight I simply want to acknowledge the loss so many displaced people are enduring. In Paris. In Syria. In Iraq. In all the pockets where oppressed peoples live on this one earth. This one world. You are forever in my heart… moving me to compassionate action.
Perhaps these recent events will move us all enough to take up the NPR Compassion Challenge explained below:
What would you do if you had to spend one day beaming compassion into the world? It could be something small, like acknowledging a stranger. It could be something big: changing the direction of another person’s life.
Please try it, and tell us what you found. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.