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Compassion is who you are

The world is endlessly filled with uncertainty, chaos, and trauma. Occasionally, there is a collective illusion among groups of people that things are "better" or "worse" but in fact, they are actually just as steady as they have ever been, on the whole. That is to say, the world is now, has always been, and will always be excruciatingly beautiful and terrible, at the same time.

If, while riding this ever-turning wheel of life, you are asking yourself, "What should I say?" you are asking the wrong question.

If you are asking yourself, "What should I do?" you are asking the wrong question.

If you are asking yourself, "Who am I?" this is the best possible question to ask, because who you are will guide everything you say and everything you do.

So, who are you?

While you might have several answers ready, related to sense of identity, persona, or other characteristics based on an idea of what it means to be someone, none of these are actually tangible. None of them hold up to their definition over time. Everything about your identity, modifiers, titles, physical body, personality, and other aspects of that-which-decays is temporary, and subject to change. You already know this, having lived with yourself for this long.

Maybe you are currently experiencing one or more major life changes, and so you have no solid answer about who you are at the ready. Perhaps you are asking yourself this question regularly, searching for new monikers, labels, or other ways to hang out a shingle that will alert you and others to who you are. None of these new, exciting, scary, or otherwise emotionally provocative labels is going to last, no matter how "real" it might feel at first blush. Time will do what it does, and even seemingly stable states are all subject to change. You already know this, having lived with yourself for this long.

Perhaps you feel very secure in your identity, your goals, your message, your ethics, and your ideals right now. Penultimate. Confident. Maybe even solid enough that you would fight for them. Maybe even solid enough that you would die for them. But that would be a waste of your life, truly, when you could be achieving, creating, and giving rather than fighting, defending, and dying. What would motivate you to lay down your arms? What do you have to live for? You already know this, having lived with yourself for this long.

There is only one thing that keeps us alive despite tremendous odds to the contrary: compassion.

Compassion saves the kitten from drowning even though it takes 4 people and a dozen attempts up the tree near the electric wire. Compassion opens the door to the person we labelled "stranger" so that the art of being human can help to transcend ideological differences. Compassion creates the circumstances by which people are reunited with one another after disagreement. Compassion is the only ultimate real source of safety for everyone: when we know we will be treated with compassion, we know we are safe. Compassion moves us to speak out and speak up; it also shows us when our silence will achieve more. Compassion is love in action.

Compassion is not a label. It is not an identity. It is not a moniker. It is not a class. It is not a gender. It is not a name. It is not an outfit you put on or take off. Compassion is the very thing that makes life worth living. It is of the utmost importance that all of us who have realized that there is an eternal wheel of life, and that we are all on it suffering and rejoicing together for as long as time exists, practice acts compassion as often as possible, to the best of our abilities, and thereby create the only observable improvements that could alleviate pain in the condition of existence.

There will never be a time when humans do not war with one another. Compassion must be the tireless and undying nurse of the battlefield.

Every time someone asks you who you are, regardless of what you might offer in the way of information they are seeking (name, rank, serial number), hold this truth in your heart: "I am Compassion."