An Ounce of Compassion

Truth, like light, blinds. Falsehood, on the contrary, is a beautiful twilight that enhances every object (Albert Camus).

Mount Rainier Len Huber Photo

I. An ounce of compassion is all I need.

While Trump was in the hospital those first 24 hours, compassion dominated social media (in word and meme). If we could feel for him, there might be a way through this time of Trump but that would’ve been too easy.

Before the election, I had a brief exchange on Twitter with a young woman who was wondering whether Donald Trump would gain her eternal soul. As a disabled, newly unemployed, young black woman, she had lost pretty much everything so it was to her soul she clung.

The very fact that she was asking, I offered, showed she could still feel for another being, regardless of circumstances. Compassion doesn’t require much. An ounce will do. She had this I assured her.

Compassion does not live at the surface of our emotions but at their core, an inward journey, fraught with detours and maybe requiring a dark night of the soul—or two—for truth, like light, blinds….

In almost unfathomable numbers, Americans are dying as Trump ignores COVID, desperately seeking his next gig for the money he needs almost as much as the power he craves. Republicans stay complicit in their silence. They fear life with him as much as they fear him gone. They do not seem to fear for their souls, however.

Vulnerability is what wakes us at four in the morning.

It’s what causes our hearts to race and panic to rise in our throats.

It’s where our skin wears thin, where our armor and our self-contained walls cannot withstand the truth of what’s happening.

And because of this, it is the exact place we can recognize our interdependence with all things.

This is how we become free, and it is where deep hope is to be found (Diane Eshin Rizzetto)*

Len Huber Photo

II. So, now I have a Eureka robot vacuum. I have been saving for it, initially because I truly loathe household chores of any kind but in particular, vacuuming and sweeping.

Both have become if not impossible, very risky chores to do while using a three-wheeled walker. So, I saved for “Euri,” as I have come to call him, and although I was certain I must supervise, it turns out I’m not needed. In fact, it’s best if I’m not in the room at all. Like the recliner, I am an obstacle.

It is true if you live long enough, some chores will become obsolete. Who knew there was that kind of joy.

Euri favors what I can only describe as a horizontal pattern of cleaning, not exactly a zigzag but always on alert for the most efficient cleaning angle. Sometimes his pattern is an isosceles triangle, while other times an obtuse one but always the angles are acute. There is little to none of the mundane up-one-row and down another. The corners and edges I avoided he favors.

Euri’s sensors are exact and his patience everlasting. No matter how many times he bumps into obstacles, he adjusts and adapts. And when he reaches 20% of his battery power, he returns to his docking station and recharges. He beeps to let me know he’s “home.”

The other day, Euri discovered the area under my bed. I had hoped that would not happen but he is not to be denied when he’s in the room. It wasn’t too long before Euri stopped, the signal for me to empty his dust cup and clean his roller, which I did and then returned him to duty. But he’d had enough and returned to his docking station. After all, it is dark under my bed, the dust is deep, and sometimes, monsters be there.

The intelligence may be artificial but its application feels human. Our interdependence with all things…is how we become free, and it is where deep hope is to be found.

Perhaps I will yet find that ounce of compassion.

Kristin MacDonald Photo


* Excerpt from Deep Hope: Zen Guidance for Staying Steadfast When the World Seems Hopeless by Diane Eshin Rizzetto, pages 13–14.

9 thoughts on “An Ounce of Compassion

  1. I love your comment “like the recliner, I am an obstacle.” It sounded like an existential sartori.
    But your comments on compassion are wise and inspiring. thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your description of Euri resonated with me. I have a close relationship with many so-called inanimate objects. I thank the refrigerators in the cold room of the food pantry when they make temperature–talking to the inanimate is something I do regularly. To me it feels as if the life force is everywhere, everywhere, and gratitude owed to both people and things we routinely take for granted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think energy animates everything on this planet, everything in this dimension. Like you, I am grateful for it and definitely in awe. As you know, I use Voice Control (dictation) for my writing and social medial presence, mainly. I have come to call it AC (although it does more than autocorrect; it anticipates and sometimes riffs) so I, too, find a sentience in the inanimate (but it also could be because I watch too much Star Trek: The Next Generation). 😂


  3. When Trump was hospitalised, the media asked our Prime Minister, here in NZ, if she had anything to say: her answer was instant. As with anybody who has the virus, she wished him a swift and safe recovery. The path is correct: as humans, in general, we veer from it, I suspect, because our emotions draw us away. It is natural for humans to vilify others who have done harm – a point shown by science: the reward mechanisms for anger and revenge are stronger than those of kindness. It is too easy to go down a darker path: but one way out of it is compassion. Would having compassion for people who have done harm soften their behaviour? Unlikely. People who have behaved in a manner such as to earn opprobium are usually unreceptive. But, still, the fact of giving compassion – as you say – reveals a humanity in those who do so – and, I think, highlights the fact that this same humanity is largely missing, or misdirected, in those who do harm.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Compassion maybe just like wearing a mask. We do it for the greater good, for each other but as your comment point out, not all of us feel compassion. like you, I think compassion can be completely missing in an individual or a group, examples abound. I may be naïve or too idealistic but I do believe an ounce of compassion can change a person or situation—it has that power—as well, I do believe there are people who are not affected at all, not changed even a bit. It’s not magical thinking but a character trait, absent or present. Sometimes, I think the entire history of humanity is cultural change, one attempt after another to open minds. As always, thank you, Matthew, for sharing your insight. I always learn from it.

      Liked by 1 person

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