A question of compassion…

I am slowly working on a piece for a site on which I sporadically contribute and routinely read – Mothers Fighting For Others – it’s a piece that came to me because someone asked me to write on the topic. At first, I thought it would be easy, but there I was wrong.

You see, the piece is about child prostitution, specifically, about “tourists” who go to foreign countries seeking children for their sexual pleasure. My first glance at the topic had me disgusted and outraged. Further research had tears welling in my eyes, my throat constricting with the effort to hold back emotion.

I felt an intense compassion for these unknown children, forced into sexual slavery through circumstance and images of my own children, both right in the typical age bracket of these child prostitutes, came to mind. My heart ached to imagine children, like my own, selling their bodies, buying their dinner on their backs.

This, then, is one of many reasons why I write, why I put pen to paper, or in this case, fingers to keyboard (though that is not nearly as poetic) using my “voice” to speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.

People cannot feel compassion for that which they do not know. They cannot feel compelled to help, to make a change, to do something, anything no matter how small, if the situation is beyond their eyes, beyond their world.

Only by bringing these tragedies to light, by sharing them, making them seem “real” and less like a distant news story, quickly covered over by the press of current events, can compassion come. And only through compassion will anything be done to bring about change in this world gone mad.

It’s not all about money, it’s not all about how much you can give, how much you can do. It’s about doing, giving, being something – and becoming a part of something larger than yourself. I sought, searched for the right words to express the concept of compassion, and amidst the overflow of sappy sentiments and the preachings of Chrisitianity, I found what, perhaps was the most accurate, the most succinct explanation of it:

“Compassion cannot be bought. It must be invoked, drawn down from the gods themselves, those masters of compassion, those creators of human beings in all their diverse forms.”

I found those beautiful words not in a sermon, or in some fund request from a charity, no. I found them from the pen of the Artistic Director of the Manitoba Theatre Centre. He was speaking of learning compassion through experiencing the arts, and his point stands firm when viewed outside of that context.

Compassion cannot be bought. It comes not from money spent, or deeds done – those instead are outgrowths of compassion, they are the result, not the reason.

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