Acknowledging All the Pain in the World

I need to pause for a moment, and just stop everything. Nothing matters right now, except one thing.

That one thing is your pain. The pain you’re feeling right now. And the pain that’s been lost so deep within you that you don’t sense it emotionally anymore, but it still manifests from time to time as physical problems, or nightmares. The pain from your childhood, and the pain from today. The pain of abandonment, isolation, molestation, and abuse. The pain of being disappointed in yourself for failure, missed opportunities, and broken dreams.

Whatever the source of your pain is, I take this moment to acknowledge it fully and completely.

Today is the worst day of someone’s life, because the love of their life just died.

Today is the worst day of someone’s life, because they can’t be with their kids.

Today is the worst day of someone’s life, a personal friend of mine actually, because they’ve been incarcerated for possibly up to ten years for behaviors that were reasonable, justified, and non-harmful to others from their perspective.

Today, people are starving in a world of abundance.

Today, some people can’t get the medical treatment they need because of corporate greed, capitalism, and political rhetoric.

Right now, mothers are crying because they are helpless to protect their children.

At this very second, someone is being overpowered and assaulted by a loved one.

What I’ve mentioned here is only a fragment of the suffering happening in the world right now.

To ignore this pain would be easy and understandable. Because what can we do? What good does it serve to allow our hearts to be broken for that which we cannot control?

I once learned that a broken heart becomes a soft heart. Often before my heart is broken, it is hard and cold. By allowing myself to experience pain, my heart becomes soft and warm to the touch.

With a soft, warm heart, I have an increased capacity to be responsive and effective in doing my part to heal the pain in our world.

As long as there is hurting, I am OK with hurting too. We can share the pain together, so that nobody has to be crushed beneath the weight alone by themselves.

Making the world better is possible. Alleviating the pain in the world is achievable.

This doesn’t require any of us to do everything for everyone.

But if we all do our part to be compassionate, warm, and present to the pain we see near us, then we do make a difference for everyone, everywhere. Because it’s all connected. We’re all connected.

To take on more than we can handle leads to overwhelming burn-out. To stress over every little negative facet of existence can be emotionally disabling.

My point in acknowledging the pain in others is not to make myself or anyone else feel guilty. We’re all hurting in our own way. I was never a fan of comparing my pain to other people’s pain. People “having it worse” than me has not ever made me feel better about myself.

The point here is simply this: Let’s be gentle. Be giving when we have something to give. Receive gracefully when we’re provided for. Help those in need when we have the resources. Be a listening ear, when people need to talk. Be liberal with giving hugs and giving kind, empowering words to others. Don’t be so quick to judge people for being in unsavory situations. Let your heart be soft, and don’t shy away from smiling at strangers.

Also published on Medium.