It has been quite difficult to avoid the recent news of over 300 asylum seekers who have been threatened with eviction from their homes in Glasgow. I’m not sure I would ever be able to fully put myself in those people’s shoes and understand the stress, the sadness, the anger, of hearing the news that the place you had been trying to make your home was quite literally locking you out. It must be devastating.
Upon hearing the news, charities, politicians and the public spoke out against the action and protests were organised. The evictions have since been suspended, although it seems that this may only be on a temporary basis. At a time when they were confronted with suffering on their doorstep, the people of Glasgow felt compassion for their neighbours and could not sit idly by. They demonstrated the compassion that others so clearly lacked.
Compassion is one of our core values at JRS and is something we try to demonstrate throughout all our work. Those whom we accompany are trapped within a web of policies that has pushed them further and further to the margins of society.
But what does compassion look like?
For me, compassion can be found in the small things: in a smile, in a handshake, in reaching out to someone and having a human connection with them. These aren’t huge acts of altruism or things I’ve had to learn to do, but simple things that should come very naturally to us. The Dalai Lama once said that “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” By being a necessity, compassion is already present in us in one form or other, we just have to make the decision to allow it to shine through in our everyday.
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
Now, no-one’s perfect and compassion can be lost in the stresses and demands of daily life. But in those moments, compassion may come and surprise us. For me, this happened during one Thursday at our weekly Day Centre. I was helping in the kitchen and clearly working myself up into a stress. It was then that one of our refugee friends reached out and asked if I was ok and needed any help. I’m sure that this friend had many, much more stressful things going on in her life, but at the point, where she saw someone in difficulty, she reached out with compassion and helped during a stressful time.
As Christians, compassion is central to our faith. For me one of Jesus’ greatest teachings was when he simply said “love thy neighbour as thyself”. We show compassion by treating others equally and as we would want to be treated. Compassion was certainly present in the community of Glasgow, who knew it was not right for their fellow human beings to be treated in such a way. Inspired by their actions maybe we can all try and show more compassion, through small acts, simple acts; reaching out to the stranger and creating real human connections.
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