“Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with it’s worst horrors. “ €• Andrew Boyd

This simple statement of undeniable truth. Yes compassion does hurt, to be aware of life’s horrors, to be unwavering in the face of them takes strength. I think of the movie “Earthlings “, the commercials for the humane society, starving children and wounded veterans. These all spark an emotional response in us. What happens next? What do we do with this information? Do we look away? Change the channel? Do nothing?

In the word compassion is “passion ” a vigor, a fire. Compassion is a fire to act from a place of love. The heart needs to be open enough to feel, yet strong enough to take a hit. Because hits happen.

Empathy is the emotion that one feels in response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to help. Compassion is really the act of going out of your way to help ease the physical, spiritual, or emotional suffering of another. Compassion is not just a sad sigh at a homeless puppy, its the drive into action. Feeling bad about something isn’t enough, intentions are great but ultimately actions matter more. Actions create change .

To keep an open heart in the midst of pain and fear is something almost unnatural. We don’t want to get hurt, we don’t want to witness the pain of others, its uncomfortable, it hurts. To offer marching orders with a strong yet open heart, to be fearlessly loving, to be unapologetically empathetic takes a benevolent bad ass.

Being a bad ass isn’t about having tattoos or pulling punches. Its more about having the fortitude to be challenged, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and to not shy away from it. To be able to take the punches that life gives you , get up, and keep going. There are things worth fighting for, and fight we should. Our compassion makes us strong. We need strength to back up those very open hearts. It takes might to do whats right. We need to be strong for ourselves, for others, we need to embrace and encourage our inner benevolent bad ass.

Closing ones heart and looking away is easy, keeping your head down and your mouth shut is the path of least resistance. Change is always hard, whether its changing your body, changing your mind, or changing the world.
Photo credit: Brian Motzenbecker Simply Photography