If you could choose any superpower, what would you choose? Would you choose to be able to fly? Invisibility? Super strength? Telepathy?
Those are the kinds of things most people think of when they think of a “superpower.”
But what about compassion?
I think that compassion is a superpower. It’s a power that fosters connection within and among ourselves, which is itself a tremendous tool in the toolbox of humanity. Have you ever noticed that “human” makes up almost the entirety of “humane?” To be “humane” means to be, or to demonstrate, or to be marked by compassion. Compassion is the superpower that is human-making.
Who sits with you in your pain? And who have you sat with in theirs?
So what does compassion mean? “Com” means “with,” and while the word “passion” today refers to strong or powerful emotion or drive, its original definition is “to be acted upon,” with connotations of suffering. To be passionate means that yes, we feel strong emotion, but we feel it to a point where we are no longer in control of ourselves because the emotions control us. We are disconnected, and we suffer. Therefore, “compassion” means “to suffer with,” and to be compassionate means that we suffer with the subject or object of our compassion. Their pain is our pain. We take that upon and into ourselves and we sit, or we stand, or we walk with that for however long. And that, in my opinion, is a great sacrifice and gift that both takes and makes humanity. How many people have you known that have suffered with you through your storms, rather than watching from the sidelines and offering a “Call me if you need anything!”? Who sits with you in your pain? And who have you sat with in theirs?
It takes a tremendous heart to be compassionate. Yeah, it would be fun to be able to fly around the world whenever you want, but I believe that real super-human ability comes from being able to truly put yourself in another’s shoes and walk with them, if only for a little while. To truly understand their story. To feel and foster connection. To suffer with, instead of leaving someone to suffer alone.