Social Diary

The power of Compassion

I was traveling from Lahore to Islamabad for a visa interview, via Grand Trunk Road. I had faced some car trouble few days ago, but I had it rectified from a local mechanic. After a brief stopover near Jehlum, my car broke down. It just wouldn’t start. To make matters worse, I was in the fast lane at that time, thus I could not park the car at the side of the road. I switched on the hazard lights anyway, to alert the cars coming at a fast pace in that lane. I opened the bonnet of the car and checked the water and engine oil levels. All well and good. The battery was fine too. After almost ten minutes of this fidgeting, I saw a car stopping on the other side of the road. Three people, all young males, came out and approached me. They asked me what the problem was. I told them what I had checked and the recent problems with the car that I faced. They rechecked everything and within five minutes, got my car started. Afterwards, I thanked them profusely and they left without any further ado.

Two months later, I was at an International airport in another country. I had just landed after a very long flight and had to spend an awful lot of time in the queue at immigration counters. As soon as I was waved in by the immigration officer, I heaved a sigh of relief and almost ran to get my luggage and get to a hotel for rest. After locating the luggage, I moved swiftly towards the exit gate. Suddenly, someone shouted in my direction. I was a bit perturbed because I made sure that I had gotten my own bags and the immigration process had gone smoothly. As I turned around, I saw a complete stranger walking swiftly towards me with some documents in his hand. I later realized that I had dropped some of my travel documents during the hurry. I thanked the guy and moved out of the airport.

Two months ago, on board a bus from Ankara to Istanbul, I was one the few people in the bus who didn’t understand the Turkish language. I was traveling with a group of people who were as clueless about the language as I was. One of the Turkish passengers observed me and asked where I was from. On hearing that I was from Pakistan, he told in broken English that he knew a little bit of Arabic. That didn’t help us much because we didn’t know Arabic either. We exchanged greetings in Arabic anyway. During the journey, the bus broke down. We were quite hungry and the nearest rest station was still at least an hour ahead. At that point, the Turkish person who was on board with his family started having a meal of Roti and vegetables. We were starving but it felt incredibly stupid to ask a stranger for some food. Sensing our uneasiness, that guy actually shared his meal with us. It was probably the most modest meal that we had during the whole trip, but it was the most gratifying. We tried to pay him for it but he strictly refused any compensation.

I could recount more stories like these, but that would stretch the word limit too much. I am confident that I am not the only human being to have experienced the magic of this feeling called Compassion. And that compassion transcends all national boundaries.

I don’t think I will see those wonderful guys from Jehlum, that person on JFK Airport or that kind Turkish gentleman ever again, but the memory of their compassionate acts will be etched on my brain forever.

I generally have a pessimistic view on life but events like these; complete strangers showing acts of kindness, rekindle my hope in humanity. This human spirit, of kindness, of compassion, is the beauty of the human soul. I feel that we are losing this feeling in our society, with an alarming rapidity, giving rise to Selfishness and Imperiousness.

We must teach similar stories to our younger generation, lest our society is deprived of an incredible asset, the power of compassion.

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