Watchword for 2016

compassion - 2016 word
“Love is not affectionate feeling but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” C.S. Lewis

Some are born with silver spoons, others seemingly crowned with kindliness from the cradle. I am not one of those. And the vicissitudes of fortune have heated the passions but without the fullness of  a warm heart.

My New Year resolutions are inevitably based around patience, goodness and mercy – all of which soon fall short of the mark. But I believe that’s because it’s not possible to intend these things but rather that they are a spiritual gift – endowed through prayer or meditation or whatever method one uses to waken awareness of the soul. In this I am somewhat lackadaisical so my desire for these things has always been more wish and want than willing.

Personally I scorn the outpourings of sentiment often on display in the news and the hashtag sanctimony of social media – a hellish path indeed when superficially directed at those far away strangers we see in the media. What I wonder are these good intenders doing to help their family, friends and neighbours. But compassion is not of this sympathetic tendency – deriving rather from Latin compati – ‘suffer with’.

I’m having to face some harsh facts in my personal life this year and so strength was going to be my plea until I fully understood that to tackle hardship it is better to soften than harden, to let go rather than take a grip.

How easy that sounds and how far from the reality of the process of transformation. Such changes are transmogrification in reverse and involve ugliness and pain and tears so I’m not taking a pie-eyed lotus position on this.

Not to suffer from but to suffer with another – that is Compassion – my word for 2016. What is yours?


10 thoughts on “Watchword for 2016

  1. Compassion is a good word. I also think softening rather than hardening into adversity is wise and not easy. I hope 2016 is good for you. You made me wonder if I have a word after the storms of the last two years. So far I can’t reduce it to one. I think I want both a calm period and a looking out to the world which has of necessity been smaller of late and focussed on my father. So it’s the balance I want I think and I need two words: reflection and adventure.


  2. better to soften than harden, to let go rather than take a grip

    that makes me think of the roots of a plant. Starting off SO soft and becoming so strong as they grow.
    Happy New Year


  3. Compassion is a word that can be used as well as misused… For sure a hashtag is far from enough. I admire anyone who spend time with those that need it… But I do recall the Mrs Jellybee of Bleak House… Remember to take care of those near you as well… Great thoughts here.


    1. very apt your reference to Mrs Jellyby & compassion- here’s a quote from the Orthodox Peace Fellowship: “Compassion, however much the word is used, does not easily thrive within the climate of movements and causes. In its place one may find a very narrow compassion focused like a spotlight on a carefully selected victim group whose needs legitimate the cause. Perhaps one of the main functions of ideology is to confine the area of compassion, so that, for example, one feels compassion for the baby seal being slaughtered for its fur but not for the man whose family may presently depend upon the fur trade”[Mrs Jellyby and the domination of causes]


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