I’ve watched in horror over the last few weeks as the fires in Australia have ravaged the country. With 24 people and 500 MILLION animals dead, millions of hectares of land burned and more than 1400 homes destroyed, I’ve been reduced to tears as the pictures of the devastation have been shared across the news and social media. Like the fires across the Amazon Rainforests and California there’s a feeling of helplessness, particularly in the fact that it is happening literally on the other side of the world.
Meet Antonia, from Evoking Grace…
Antonia has an inspiring story…
I grew up in “Il Mezzogiorno,” land of crystal clear waters, sandy beaches, mozzarella but also mysterious bureaucracy and eternal corruption. I arrived in London with only £50 and things went from bad to worse when I suddenly found myself penniless. I would have gone without food had it not been for the merciful help of some very generous homeless people! That day I learnt about compassion and solidarity and I knew I had to give it back out there somehow. Continue reading
Today is #1000 Speak for Compassion, a blogging event that was designed by Considerings, and Yvonne Spence, and today sees over a thousand bloggers from all over the world coming together to talk about compassion, kindness, support and caring for others.
The world can be a harsh and depressing place, and with the thousands of daily stories of violence and cruelty that are flashed across the media on a daily basis it is easy to forget that there are still good people out there – millions of good people who do beautiful things for others on a daily basis without ever asking for anything in return. In celebration of the event, I thought it would be a nice idea to show you some of these examples of human kindness.
After thousands of people were left without electricity when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, people allowed strangers to charge their phones to allow them to contact their relatives and let them know that they were alright. Image
This local dry cleaners will dry clean an outfit for free for an unemployed person going to an interview. Image
A New York Police Officer gives some boots to a barefoot man. Image
A soldier rescued a baby rabbit and raised it, dedicating hours of his time to make sure it was healthy. Image: Joshua M. Bisnar
A couple with a newborn baby were given this. I’m sure that there are thousands of new parents that understand how wonderful this is. Image
A world class marathon runner slows down to help a disabled man drink some water. Image
A man stopped running to catch his train so that he could help an elderly lady who was struggling with her bags. Image
A police officer handcuffed himself to a young woman who was attempting to commit suicide. He saved her life. Image
This young boy won a huge scavenger hunt contest. He donated his winnings to his neighbour that was battling leukaemia. Image
This pizza place, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia, is renowned for it’s $1 slices of pizza. Customers also get the opportunity to ‘pay it forward’ by purchasing a slice of pizza for a homeless person – the initial idea was that a customer wrote a message on a post-it-note and it was stuck onto the wall as proof of purchase. However, the scheme has now become so popular that there are no longer any room left on the walls, and so the owner, Mason Wartman now has to keep track of the purchases using the till. Over 8,500 slices have been given to the homeless in the last nine months alone. Image:Reuters
Compassion is not just for the old, or the young. Showing kindness does not depend on what colour, or religion, or sexual orientation someone is. We’re all human, we’re all unique, but we’re all equal.
What could you do for someone today?
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S was a lovely man. Kind, quiet, considerate and friendly, he lived in the house next door to us. We were good neighbours to each other – we looked after his cat whenever he went on holiday, he would trim the hedges at the front of our house, we’d put each others bins out on rubbish day and we’d always have a nice chat in a morning as we left for work at the same time. I know that he had been having a rough time – he and his wife had separated and she had left, taking their son with her, but in conversations we had with him he seemed to be doing ok – he regularly went out with his friends, he had a new relationship, he went away on holiday for a break, and he seemed to greet us with a smile every morning as he left for work.
About a year after the separation, we received a knock on the front door. It was K, who lived in the house on the other side of S, and she was upset. S had taken his own life. He had been found in his house, hanging from the light fitting in his bedroom by his brother who had become concerned when he failed to show up for lunch. When we learned the time of his death we realised that when he was doing it, we were lying in bed in the room on the other side of the wall. A wall that was so thin that we could hear him cough and sneeze in the night.
I felt helpless. If he had only knocked on the door, or even on the wall, and told us that he was feeling this way. If only he had given some sort of inclination that he was struggling, that he needed help. If only he had told someone, anyone. If only…
I couldn’t sleep last night. I awoke at about 2am after a nightmare, and so I logged onto Twitter to calm my thoughts. Like the rest of the world, I was horrified to hear of the death of Robin Williams, an actor who’s many films have made me both laugh and cry. While many are quoting his performances in Good Morning Vietnam, Good Will Hunting and Mrs Doubtfire, for me it was Bicentennial Man that has always stayed with me as being the absolute example of his ability to simply make us feel. Every death is tragic and a loss to the people around them, but a life taken by their own hands always leaves me with the same feeling that I experienced when S passed away. Helpless. How sad that a man who did so much for so many felt that there was no other option.
Suicide is not chosen: it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain. It is not a strength or weakness, or a defect. It doesn’t come with any moral wrongs or rights.
I am not a therapist, and I don’t possess any qualifications in counselling or mental health issues, but I know what it is like to feel that there is nothing. I know what it is like to be surrounded by people and feel entirely alone. I know the blackness and despair that depression can bring. I also know that, without help, the Black Dog doesn’t go away – it festers and grows, taking over and destroying every aspect of the mind and body, and the burden of carrying it alone makes it unbearable. I also know that things get better.
Depression doesn’t discriminate. I’m not saying anything different from millions of others this morning. If you’re feeling lost, alone, out of control, I’m imploring you to tell someone – a family member, a friend, a neighbour. Contact the Samaritans, or the National Suicide Prevention line. Or anyone. Just tell someone. You aren’t alone, you aren’t crazy, and remember that no matter how badly you feel, there is always a light out there. There is hope, friendship, love and laughter. There is joy, inspiration, creativity and happiness.
There is life.
RIP Robin Williams, you will be greatly missed. My thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends.