“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 destiny 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 its worst horrors.”
I’ll bet I’m not the only one who can relate really well to this quote, especially after some of the events that have been going on in recent weeks. The world’s full of heavy stuff. Some people get an especially heavy exposure to it. Police, people working in mental health, those running charity organizations, parents of kids in rough neighborhoods.
One thing that I always find helpful to remember is that we weren’t exactly designed to handle the full volume of the world’s catastrophes. We were made for empathy and I think our hearts were built so that they’d be broken by the things that break God’s heart– injustice, broken relationships, violence. But were we meant to be able to handle the weight of every single tragedy on the news? I don’t think so. For most of human history, people have had to grieve really local things– deaths in a community, property fires, natural disasters, and they were able to do so with the people immediately around them.
When the world seems big and daunting, I like to remember that we were designed for a smaller, more intimate world. I got a call last week from my good friend Steven wanting to talk about some of the terrible things that have been happening in the world. We didn’t solve anything, but all I know is that it was way, way better to process one-on-one, than all alone and with the world online, and it felt really good to talk.