This is essentially a continuation of the previous teaching (Song 7), in that it is concerned with how we perceive others, and in turn how we treat others as a result of these perceptions.
While Song 7 was centred around the attitudes we should have towards other people, such as being kind, loving, and compassionate, today’s principle shifts the focus slightly. Instead of simply saying that we should be compassionate, it makes the further step of saying that all humans are naturally compassionate.
This seems like a minimal distinction on the surface, but it has important implications for how we respond to other people’s actions.
You know how there are some people that we just dismiss as ‘bad apples’ or ‘lost causes’ - they’re bad to the bone, bad eggs…the list of metaphorical ‘bads’ is endless.
Well, if we view human nature as being compassionate - something that is supported by science - then we aren’t so quick to dismiss people as being inherently bad and therefore not worthy of support. I think this approach seems like a really good way of supporting forgiveness and improving tolerance.
Personally, I also find it a reassuring thought that deep down we’re all naturally compassionate. Not only does it add weight to the idea that we all have something in common (Song 3), but it also makes the road to becoming truly compassionate seem a lot easier.
If it’s already inside us, it seems like a case of unlocking it by looking inwards, as opposed looking out into the world in order to try and put our finger on this abstract concept of ‘compassion’. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
The song I’ve chosen for this lesson is ‘Most People are Good’ by Luke Bryan, and I love it because it embodies this idea of viewing others as inherently compassionate.
“I believe most people are good, and most mamas oughta qualify for sainthood”
It was written in an increasingly polarising political climate in the US, and the song’s writers have spoken about how they wanted to hone in on the fact that, despite all the rivalry, most people do love one another and try to help each other out.
When events like elections divide a nation, it’s easy to focus on these tensions and battle lines and go back to feeling as if there’s no common ground between the sides involved. But again, this ties in with Song 3 in underlining how there is always a way to find common ground - after all, someone’s political views only make up one small aspect of their personality.
“I believe if you just go by the nightly news, your faith in all mankind would be the first thing you lose”
The news has always kinda bugged me, because all you’re shown is the worst things humans are doing. And it’s true what it says in the song, that if you thought this was an accurate representation of humanity, then you’d quickly lose faith in the goodness and compassion of people.
But there are so many amazing, heartwarming things that humans are doing every single day, and it’s just a matter of what you choose to focus on. It can sound naive or twee to say, ‘Yeah, you know what, I do think most people in the world are good’. But if you view people as being inherently compassionate, then it’s a no-brainer.
Everyone has the capacity for compassion in them, and this should always offer us a ray of hope, even when we see so many terrifying, inhumane acts on the news. Here’s a really good site which only documents ‘good news’, and I’d highly recommend it for a daily dose of positivity, to counter the often disheartening regular news.
“I believe you love who you love, ain’t nothing you should ever be afraid of”
Which song are you choosing for today's teaching?