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" One touch of nature

makes all the world kin "

William Shakespeare

Soft, almost invisible acts of compassion

November 21st, 2010

Quote for the Day

What I’ve come to learn is that the world is never saved in grand messianic gestures, but in the simple accumulation of gentle, soft, almost invisible acts of compassion, everyday acts of compassion. In South Africa they have a phrase called ubuntu. Ubuntu comes out of a philosophy that says, the only way for me to be human is for you to reflect my humanity back at me.

Chris Abani Professor at the University of California, Riverside

7 Responses to “Soft, almost invisible acts of compassion”

  1. A lovely concept. I’ve been having a discussion elsewhere abut the nature of evil and I think one possible view is that evil is the opposite of ubuntu i.e. to take no account of a person’s humanity (I would go further and say, a living being’s life), for that sentience to find no reflection, to be sucked into darkness and extinguished.

  2. What a lovely thought. I think we are all graced with those small kindnesses everyday, even if it is just a smile from a passing stranger. It opens the heart to feel acknowledged by another and to acknowledge others ourselves; it costs nothing to give and yet can have such a powerful impact on both the giver and receiver. Despite all that we are encouraged to assume, I believe that there is always more love and good in the world than evil. I think those unassuming acts of compassion are a part of who we are (for the majority of us).

  3. In Hawaii we have a word called “kokua”. It means to give without being asked, to see a need and fill it with no expectatiions of reward.

  4. Hennie, that’s beautiful! I’m going to write that down in my little note book that I carry with me always.

  5. I think I would characterize that as empowering. Who among us can truly claim to have the inner stuff to ‘save the world’ in one clear, clean shot? At the same time each and every one of us has the capacity for kindness and compassion. We all have the ability to do good. Perhaps the only thing stopping us is that we fear that it won’t make any difference. We just forget that it does make a difference. One such act can change everything. It is important to remember this.

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