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Our Values - Compassion

In the second of our series of blogs around our values, Mark Turnbull explores compassion

In difficult times ‘choose your hook’….

One of the things about a difficult summer of lockdown is that it does tend to make you reflect on summers before, when things were simpler, and we were able to enjoy the summer more. I know that the solitude of the last few weeks has seen me thinking back to better times, holidays, time with friends and time with family.

Of course, some of my most vivid memories of summer are from my childhood and particularly the six weeks school holidays, largely spent with my wonderful Mum. Most of it was spent sitting or playing in the garden and whether my mind is biased or not, I do not know, but I certainly remember summer holidays as being more consistently sunny!

I also recall some pretty iconic memories from the summer of my younger days in the early 80s. I recall being pushed into a car running late to go and see the Pope visit Coventry in 1982 and staying up late with my Mum in 1984 watching the summer Olympics in Los Angeles, the wonder of TV that continued past midnight!. It’s also possibly my first real memory of being ‘moved’ emotionally by a global event.

In the summer of 1985 Live Aid drew a global audience of millions and highlighted the tragedy of the ongoing famine in Ethiopia. I found it hard to comprehend at 12 that such suffering was happening and I remember it as my first memorable engagement with ‘charity’ and giving - a small pocket money donation followed, one of millions of people who were moved to help that day.

Whatever your beliefs about some of the negative aspects of human behaviours – some of the anger we see on social media, or our beliefs about things we see as bad happening in the world, I am still very much convinced of the overall compassionate nature of our fellow human beings.

Even during this challenging time, we have seen small and large acts of empathy and help, from Captain Tom to the neighbours that have shopped for others isolating.

We face the challenge of a continuation of current lockdown for a while longer and still beyond that are the other issues that currently challenge us - economic inequality, the refugee crisis, the climate challenge to name a few. But it is encouraging that there are many people tackling these challenges, people who we would traditionally call ‘leaders’ and people who are leading in their own way - I still feel humbled by the young people who will save their pocket money to ‘help’

Sadly, there are things that will seek to divide us – we have seen that too in the current crisis. I remind myself and friends, if it helps, that to care for ourselves through these challenging times we have to ‘Choose our Hooks?’ (a concept I learned from the writer Pema Chodron), particularly on social media where so many things can pull us in or make us angry, or ‘hook’ us into negative responses.

Amidst some of the negative threads there are people doing positive.

Compassionate people and leaders doing things, small and large to help others, often in collaboration with others. My own belief is that compassionate action is a wise choice, not just as an act for others but for ourselves, it connects us and opens us to those around us, when at the moment there is a lot that could shut us in… literally.

So I will leave you with a question, what are the ‘hooks’ that will motivate you positively in the coming months (equally what are the ones you will resist), what are the things that are moving you to act with others positively? - small or large these are the things that will give us hope in the months ahead and sustain us into the future.

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