“I care too much, and it’s OK. I will not let anyone tell me I am wrong to love, to have empathy or compassion. Period.”

That is what I posted on Facebook this morning with this image on the right from this great Minister John Pavlovitz which I’ve come to greatly respect.

What prompted this post? Basically the hatred that I see from my so-called “friends” and people that I once admired. People that have nothing better to do with their day but spewing uncompassionate statements about the poor, the needy, the handicapped, the immigrants, you name it. The bullying and condescension over the less fortunate is at an all time high. It’s disheartening.

My standard operating procedure is to unfollow, I rarely unfriend, but sometimes I am so heavily disappointed in people and so disgusted by their behaviour and how they think that I not only unfriend but block. I make no apologies. I want to live a life surrounded by people that believe in human decency, my emotional health demands it.

I am not exactly sure I can pinpoint the moment where my empathy and compassion for people in general started, but I remember vividly walking home from school when I was a pre-teen and one girl started bullying me as she laughed and walked away. I just looked at her and thought to myself: “Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done to yourself”. You know, the “Golden Rule”. I didn’t want to be like her, so I kept mum. I just couldn’t understand why it was fun to bully others. I would never do that.

As an adult, I remember working hard, working crazy hours, even 90 hours a week for one employer in particular, and still being so broke I had to put my entire grocery bill on a credit card. I remember working for Sizzler, asking if they had any extra food that they were going to throw away that I could take home. How many times I would eat dinner at Domino’s Pizza with a “mistake pizza”? Countless!!! Working the variety of jobs I had in the 80s and early 90s let me experience things I can’t put into words. I’ve encountered a variety of people in dire straits from every culture and color. I worked with them, I talked to them, I helped them, they helped me. I heard stories of lives hard to believe at times because they were so enveloped with tragedies and sadness.

I would of course come to know all about tragedy and sadness myself. I experienced it on my own skin. Losing a baby at full term will do that to you. Having a child with a devastatingly painful disorder will do that to you. It will make you look at things in a different way. I will make you look at people in a different way. It changes everything.

I was watching the news with Connor last week when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and just seeing those houses under water and people struggling… and enormous wave of sadness came over me and made me tear up on the spot. Before I knew it I was sobbing uncontrollably. Maybe I am over-sensitive, but I just “felt” the pain, the sadness, the tragedy. In that moment I was there with them, if only in my mind.

I will not let anyone make me believe that my “bleeding heart” is a character defect. On the contrary. I choose and I let myself see, feel, understand. I understand that to blame a stranger for their dire circumstances or speculating that they are lazy is incredibly wrong, and I said that many times before. But it bears repeating.

This world needs more empathy and compassion. Now more than ever.

Love & Light,

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