I’m reblogging this post from last year, as my contribution to Prompt Stomp Week 7.
Compassion is a sympathetic pity and concern for the suffering or misfortunes of others (Oxford Dictionary). It is the ability to understand the emotional state of another person or oneself. It involves more than putting yourself in their place and genuinely wanting to understand or even help them.
I started the day by giving my husband a nice cup of tea in bed and he appreciated it. Then, I wrote to Junmar and Kersy Ann, our two sponsored children in the Philippines. With our monthly donation, Plan International helps them and their families with different projects for their communities. Junmar is 14 years old, from Mindoro and belongs to Mangyan tribe. He attends primary school and walks approximately 45 minutes to reach the school. Kersy Ann, also 14, is from Tacloban. She and her family were some of the victims of the Haiyan typhoon surge. With Plan International, they were given some help to rebuild their house and their lives again.
In the afternoon, I had a meeting with our Filipino group. I prepared some food (pancit and embutido) and dessert (leche flan) for them. Our group is called “Punla” which is a Tagalog word for seedling. We continue to follow the socio-political and cultural development in the Philippines while at the same time working for active participation in German society. Actually, this means organising lectures, discussions, exhibits and similar activities which would offer our public the opportunity for encounter, dialogue and information exchange. Our meeting is about brainstorming some concepts for our next project. We would like to organise a panel discussion and an exhibit about the Migrant Filipinos in Germany for the 60th Philippines – German Diplomatic Ties in June, next year. We would like to collaborate with some departments of the university, the German Cultural Office, the Consulate and other institutes. There are only 6 members of the group and we are a cohesive group. We try to avoid groupthink which is “the mode of thinking that persons engage in when concurrence-seeking becomes so dominant in a cohesive in-group that it tends to override realistic appraisal of alternative courses of action”—Irving Janis (1971). We try to be impartial and encourage critical evaluation. We divide the group occasionally, and then reunite to air differences. Critiques from outside experts and associates are always welcome.
The “Day of Compassion me” and the “normal me” are one and the same – the real me. I like the real me! I’ve always been a compassionate and helpful person. I believe it’s called a self-fulfilling prophesy, which is a belief that leads to its own fulfilment. Being the eldest girl in the family, I took it upon myself to look after my siblings from an early age. I’m an understanding and loving wife, a considerate mum, a thoughtful daughter, a sympathetic sister and aunt and a big-hearted and loyal friend. I’m charitable – I donate some money to the German Red Cross, Plan International, Children in Need, Comic Relief, Handog Natin and Aktion Kind. I provide books, old clothes and toys to the children in the Philippines. I’m humanitarian – last Christmas, I sent some money to build some basic shelters for the victims of Haiyan storm surge instead of giving presents to my nieces and nephews. I explained to them the reason and they understood. It’s also showing them an example of being charitable. I used to volunteer to work once a week to “Tahanan” which is a shelter for battered women and children. I accompanied the women to some government offices so they could get some support, babysat their children if they needed to look for a job or ran errands or just be there when they needed someone to talk to.
The psychological costs and benefits of behaving compassionately are immeasurable. I believe the benefits outweigh the costs. Altruism is selfishness in reverse. It is a motive to increase another’s welfare without conscious regard for one’s self-interest. I always thought that I’ve been very lucky in my life and because of that; I should give something in return for this blessing. I feel a social-responsibility norm, that I should help those who really need it, without regard to future exchanges. I know that some people are incapable of reciprocal giving and receiving, and I don’t mind that, I feel satisfied with the reflection that I am able to help others.
The others respond positively to my compassion. They appreciated what I did. I don’t believe they noticed a difference in my behaviour; they’ve always expected me to be my real me. They say that I wear my heart on my sleeve – honest and straightforward. They attribute it to behavioural confirmation, which is a type of self-fulfilling prophecy in which social expectation leads them to believe in ways that cause others to confirm their expectations.
If I wanted to encourage others to behave as I did during the Day of Compassion Day, I would use the social-exchange theory, which is a theory that human interactions are transactions that aim to maximise one’s rewards and minimise one’s costs. For example, when donating blood, we weigh the inconvenience and discomfort against the social approval and noble feeling. If the anticipated rewards exceed the costs, we help. Social psychology can be used to foster a more compassionate society by spreading good deeds. For example, I do one good deed to another person, and this person appreciated what I did, so he will do a kind endeavour to the next person, and so on.
If I were to predict my behaviour one month from now, I don’t envision it will be changed as a result of participating in the Day of Compassion. I’ve always considered myself to be the nurturing type and I try to help others in my own ways. The knowledge that I’ve gained from Social Psychology affects my action. I hope that I could be a role model to my son, my nieces and nephews. It has been a soul-searching experience.