Compassion... pass it on!
Today was an amazing and thought filled day... I say this because I saw two totally different movies that moved me in a way I didn't think was possible. Let me try to explain in writing (I'm much better at talking, I wish I could talk my way through a blog).... I was invited to watch Miss Representation with a group of women, all in high school, and discuss the movie. I don't often get asked by young people to engage, so this was an opportunity I wasn't go to let pass by. Also, I've been wanting to see this movie. These women are part of a group called Young Women for Change, a program that is run through the Michigan Women's Foundation.
Let me also mention the other movie, The Lorax. We went as a family and this was Zola's (my daughter) first time at a movie theater. It was exciting yet nerve wracking as I wasn't entirely sure how she would behave in the movie, she's only three. Also, although I know The Lorax, I was really expecting to be bored and focused more on her, especially after reading some of the comments from various critics. When will I ever learn to ignore the critics?!
After coming home from The Lorax, I found something gnawing at me... like I needed to write down my thoughts, but what were the thoughts? I wasn't entirely sure.... but I felt like a something was bubbling deep inside of me and had to be unleashed. I had to find a way to share that with all of you. Something has happened to me.... deep, powerful and profound. So, this blog post was started.... I'm still unsure how it will end, so let's see what happens.
Miss Representation took me on a journey through the dark side of how women are represented or the lack of women's true representation in government, media, technology, etc.... things that really impact us all. The Lorax took me on a different journey, one where we misuse our natural and wonderful resources. Yes, one was more like a documentary and the other a "cartoon", but both had strong messages and made me feel inspired and also entirely overwhelmed.
Although the journeys were quite different, both movies were very inspiring. And, my head kept coming back to the fact that they were similar. Not just in the length of the movies, or the fact that they had themes or that they were telling stories. Something else was smacking me across the face in each journey. The part that had me feeling inspired. But, I couldn't figure out what it was. What was that thing smacking me?!
So, I stood in that feeling and breathed. I sat in silence and dark and just breathed. I breathed in the comments made by the young women after the Miss Representation. I breathed in my notes from Miss Representation. I breathed in my daughter's comments after The Lorax. I breathed in the conversation David and I had on the drive home after The Lorax. I breathed it all in.... my thoughts blended together with my breath. My breath took my thoughts around the earth and back. And, what came back to me was a loud sound of a single word... COMPASSION.
I was shocked. I expected to hear GREED or EVIL or something negative, but instead, I hear the beautiful word.. COMPASSION.
I rumble through the notes in my head...Compassion? Seriously?! Universe, please help me make sense of this word... compassion. Why is this the word you serve me... let me see if I can break it down for myself here with you as my companion.
I'm not sure I saw much compassion for women in Miss Representation? The stats were alarming.
- 78% of girls hate their bodies by the age of 15
- 65% of girls have an eating disorder
- Women are 56% of the population yet only hold 17% of position in Congress (less now that Olympia Snowe isn't running again) and 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs
So, where the heck do that word come in? Why compassion? The movie presented some thought on why these stats were our reality. Why women were struggling so much at so many levels. Why men saw women as objects to be obtained and why women accepted it. But, compassion? Ummm... Wow. Not what I expected to hear in my head.
The Lorax. Was that a compassionate movie? What happens? SPOILER ALERT, if you haven't read the book or seen the movie and want to be surprised, stop reading.
Well, an individual called an once-ler found an amazing tree (Truffula) with beautiful tuffs that allowed him to make a "thneed". People buy the thneeds like crazy. He can't keep up and begins to cut down trees (although he promised The Lorax he would never cut down a tree). His business ends because he cuts down the last tree and cannot make anymore thneeds.
But wait, there is more to both of the stories....
I left out the part in The Lorax where Ted, a young man living in Thneed, goes looking for a tree and the once-ler. He finds him, asked for a tree and instead hears the story. He returns to the once-ler, now an old man, living alone with nothing at all but his sad thoughts, to continue to hear the story of The Lorax and the Truffula trees despite the obstacles in his way. He is finally given a seed by the once-ler and is told "unless he does something, nothing will ever change". And, he does.... he plants the seed and hopes it will change the world. He has deep compassion for the once-ler and his fellow human beings. He also believes that he can change the way of the future.
With Miss Representation, I found compassion in the women who sat around the table with me. These women, they were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G and will be great leader,s for which I cannot wait! One actually said "we need to get everyone to see this movie, it needs to be broadcast everywhere. Men and women both need to see this movie!" She felt compelled to show it to everyone because she believed that if they saw it, they would surely be changed for the better. She showed deep compassion for those around her being able and willing to change.
It's just like in The Lorax as the young boy believes that if he can get a tree to grow then everyone will love trees. Once they see that tree, it will change everything. If we can get this movie to everyone, this will surely change everything.
I know, it's idealist. I know that we, jaded adults see things differently. Our hard knocks make it hard to see it any other way. Our lens have been fogged up.
But, for an instant, in my breath, I was taken to another place. I feel my lens has been wiped clean. I felt like I had arrived in a place of DEEP, heartfelt compassion. One with breathtaking views and beautiful scenery.
So while we adults all continue to complain about the state of our country and the fact that we're losing good people in government (see Olympia Snowe). While we continue to argue over what is at play here: greed, ego, power, anger, hatred, etc.
I ask you to make this pledge with me. Show everyone around you compassion. Even those you disagree with. Those you agree with. Those you dislike intensely. Those who make you life horrible. Those who make your life easy. Bring compassion back to the mainstream.
I'm not saying it's easy. It's not. We'll fail and fall and make mistakes, but then we should get right back up, dust ourselves off and try again.
We need to take a lesson from all the young people with their idealist, fog-less glasses because in the end...
I leave you with the quote at the end of The Lorax that made me cry and smile at the same time...
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.