Compassion

Today I walked past a man selling luggage tags as part of his rehabilitation program after being released from prison. But his history had nothing to do with the story. It’s just to provide some background information.

The luggage tag cost $10, which seemed rather expensive. Half the cost – $5 – would go to him. He claims to be supporting his sick mum as well as himself by doing this. Now I’m always skeptical when people tell me stories like that. But it doesn’t affect my decision to help because I believe that it’s their cross to bear when they are willingly deceptive. So I figured, since I just got paid by my part-time job, I’d pay it forward and help the guy out. But here’s the thing though, I instantly regretted it.

The regret had nothing to do with him. I allocate my money to various things and giving money away would mean I would have to compromise something. In other words, if he hadn’t approached me, I wouldn’t have thought twice to help others if my goals weren’t achieved yet. I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing. What I do know is that it can be attributed to either human nature or the way society functions. We’re all nice, generous and kind when we want to be (or when we are nudged in that direction). But to do it selflessly is the part we struggle with.

Perhaps that was the lesson today. A reminder that we can’t make the world a better place if we prioritize our wants before others needs. I’d like to think that I’m compassionate. However, I hadn’t realized I wasn’t selflessly compassionate. And if history is anything to go by, it’s the selfless people that made the world more conducive and equal for people to live in.

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