I don’t know whether compassion will be a hallmark of the new Chinese Year of the Sheep (or Goat/Ram). I sincerely hope so.
I do know that our Chinese-born adopted daughter, born in the last Year of the Sheep (2003) is not much of a flock follower (other than in fashion). I know that she can ram home her point and she can certainly get as mad (as in angry) as a goat and act as stubborn as an Ox (just like her little brother, the Ox, also adopted from China).
Compassion is something I’m trying to teach them both. It’s right alongside empathy, of course, and is up there with confidence and resilience in my book. Confidence and resilience are great, as long as you can show yourself, and others, compassion and kindness – starting with empathy.
Compassion is the focus for a global link-up of voices speaking gently – #1000speak. A chorus of soft song. A harmony.
As the new Chinese Year (also known as Lunar new year) arrives I ponder whether compassion will be up there alongside the annual wishes for happiness and prosperity.
The focus tends to be on luck, wealth and longevity for celebrations that extend from New Year for the fifteen days of the Spring Festival. Everyone wants to ring in New Year luck with feasting (yum), and ward off bad spirits with firecrackers. No mention of compassion for when things don’t work out.
Unfortunately being born in the Year of the Sheep/Goat is not considered lucky – Chinese myth suggests that 9 out of 10 people born in this year don’t find happiness in their lives and couples supposedly even avoid having children in Sheep years (although statistics don’t bear this out).
Our daughter was born in the Year of the Sheep and wound up an orphan, who we, so very fortunately, were able to adopt. I would never presume she is lucky, but I certainly feel that way, even more now that we have adopted our son also. What are the crazy circumstances that brought us together but yin and yang – bad luck, good luck, good luck, bad luck. The strange, sad, yet sublime, circle of life.
Sheep are supposed to be followers, and in a society that seems to want to value leaders we don’t show enough compassion to poor, sensitive Sheep. They are creative, but can be shy. We need to cut them some slack, give them their time to shine. Our sheep/goat girl is cautious, yet self-assured, soft yet strident. Sometimes I can’t quite work out who she is, let alone who she is going to be. She’s only 11.5 years old. She has plenty of time to work it out. I have as much time as needed to wait, with compassion.
I hope she will be compassionate.
Our little (or not so much anymore) sheep girl is such a beautiful dancer. She’s all grace and serenity – soft, smooth and subtle – a natural talent that all I can do is nurture. While she knows she’s good, others have commented on her modesty as much as her ability. I’m proud of how she dances, and beyond proud of her humility, her grace, her sense of compassion in not wanting to make another feel lesser in order to feel good herself.
She yells at her brother, at me, even at her father (who spoils her rotten). She yells because I shout and because I don’t show enough compassion. She throws hate around and it hits me fair between the eyes. Yet she loves, shows kindness and knows what it is to be compassionate, even though it is not always easy to be so.
Our little boy, now five, is a naturally kind heart – a sweet, if stubborn, Ox. He will be easier to mold with love and compassion– not by subduing, but by teaching. He is quick to learn. I suspect he will be a leader and hope he will be a leader of humanity.
I hope he will be compassionate.
Can we teach compassion or do we just have to feel it? Can we ever force it? I doubt it, even though I sometimes use harsh words to try to ‘guilt’ a kind response – surprising how I can’t see the hypocrisy in that!
I think compassion can only ever be shown, in our actions large and small.
It is not enough to feel for someone – we must speak kind words, really listen, make caring gestures and do things for people with love and non-judgement. And we must speak kindly to ourselves, listen intently to our inner voice, cut ourselves some slack, honour our talents and successes and accept our failings and mistakes.
Let’s hope this New Chinese Year of the Sheep echoes with a chorus of compassion around the world. And if your year hasn’t started as well as you hoped, just make a new start with compassion.