Thursday Apr 02, 2020

What the World needs now is Courage and Compassion

It’s an isolated world, well, sort of, but it’s one that needs courage and compassion if we are going to create connection.

Today as I write this, is it our first day of mandatory nationwide lockdown in New Zealand due to the spread of the Corona Virus. People have been told to stay at home. There is an eerie quietness to where we live. The motorway a few kilometers provides no hum.

Two words keep coming to my thinking: courage and compassion.


I think of all those who hold positions of authority in our world. The courageous decisions they have had to take. Closing borders, shutting down economies, enforcing lockdowns. Some of the leadership decisions were not made in time; some decisions were made well.

There is also the courage required in you and me in our everyday lives. We face the issue, and we do the right thing. We do the best we can.

The word courage has its roots in the Latin word cor, which literally means “heart.”

People all over the world may well be losing heart at the moment, losing their sense of courage. Seeing the overwhelming horror of this pandemic can cause a degradation of the soul—a whittling away of our life.

Courage is needed by all to reach out to our neighbor and say you’re not alone.


We’re not going to get everything right. Somethings we do in this world war will be successful others will fail. Will we be compassionate towards the leaders who will get it wrong?

Will you be compassionate towards yourself in this time of crisis.

Self-compassion absorbs the failures and forgives the self. It says you’re doing ok and that you’re loved.

Compassion is the venue where we can sit with each other and say you’re not alone.

Social isolation in a time of loneliness

About eight years ago, I used to do door-to-surveying for a research company. I was given a specific neighborhood and told to survey every third house.

There were also many other rules to my surveying to make sure I got a very accurate representation of the people living in the neighborhood. The one thing that surprised me the most was the number of people living by themselves.

In the latest census, New Zealand has  405,000 people living by themselves.

Now add in the fact that due to the pandemic, you can’t have your regular social activities where you can mix and mingle, and you’re heading towards more anxiety and depression.

We need each other for good mental health. We were never meant to be alone. We may get through this through physical isolation, but we will be poorer and sicker if we don’t have a social connection.

Connection needs courage and compassion

In my gardening business, I work for many people who live by themselves. Age, illness, disability all in some way contribute to their need for someone to come and prune, weed, and tidy.

So I am going to keep in connection with them. I have compassion for their potential social isolation and the courage they will need to face into this. I’m going to ring them and have a chat.

Who in your social network needs you to connect with them?

It could be a phone call, an email, a meeting over the internet. I recently sent out an offer (totally free) to all my email subscribers to have a chat or video call with me on the internet. If you want to chat, email me.

It’s been so good to meet many of them for the first time. For me to get to know them and their situation. They learn a bit more about me too!

Here’s the challenge

Who, in your life, needs your connection? It might be the stranger, the neighbor, the friend, and even the enemy.

Remember, you’re not there to necessarily solve their problems. What most people want is to know someone is there for them.

Quotes to consider

  • Courage is like—it’s a habitus, a habit, a virtue: You get it by courageous acts. It’s’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging. Mary Daly
  • It takes courage to respond to the invitation to share one’s self with another person. David G. Benner
  • Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ”What! You too? I thought I was the only one. C.S. Lewis 
  • Loneliness isn’t the physical absence of other people it’s the sense that you’re not sharing anything that matters with anyone else. Johann Hari  
  • To end loneliness, you need other people—plus something else. You also need to feel you are sharing something with the other person, or the group, that is meaningful to both of you. You have to be in it together—and “it” can be anything that you both think has meaning and value. Johann Hari
  • Compassion for yourself is where you start when things are tough, not where you stop. Rick Hanson
  • Compassion means entering the suffering of another in order to lead the way out.  Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

Questions to answer

  1. What can we do in this time of social isolation to enable a safe social connection?
  2. Who are you being prompted to get in touch with?
  3. How are you compassionate to yourself in these stressful times?

Further reading


Barry Pearman

Image cc: Toa Heftiba


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