“…And, despite all your good intentions, you are conscious of a terrible inability to help as you would like to. Then comes the voice of the tempter: Why torture yourself? It is no good. Give up, stop caring. Be unconcerned and unfeeling like everybody else.
Still another temptation arises —compassion really involves you in suffering. Anyone who experiences the woes of this world within his heart can never again feel the surface happiness that human nature desires. When hours of contentment and joy come, the compassionate man cannot give himself unreservedly to them, for he can never forget the suffering he has experienced with others. What he has seen stay with him. The anguished faces of the poor return; the cries of the sick echo in his mind, he remembers the man whose hard lot he once read about-and darkness shuts out the light of his joy. Darkness returns again and again. In cheerful company he suddenly becomes absentminded. And the tempter says again: You can’t live like this. You must be able to detach yourself from what is depressing around you. Don’t be so sensitive. Teach yourself the necessary indifference, put on an armor, be thoughtless like everybody else if you want to live a sensible life. In the end we are ashamed to know of the great experience of empathy and compassion. We keep it a secret from one another and pretend it is foolish, a weakness we outgrow when we begin to be “reasonable” people.
The three great temptations unobtrusively wreck the presupposition of all goodness. Guard against them. Consider the first temptation by saying that for you to share experience and to lend a helping hand is an absolute necessity. Your utmost attempts will be but a drop in the ocean compared with what needs to be done, but only this attitude will give meaning and value to your life. Where ever you are, as far as you can, you should bring redemption, redemption from the misery brought into the world by the self-contradictory will of life, redemption that only he who has this knowledge can bring. The small amount you are able to do is actually much if it only relieves pain, suffering, and fear from any living being, be it human or any other creature. The preservation of life is the true joy.
As for the other temptation, the fear that compassion will involve you in suffering, counter it with the realization that the sharing of sorrow expands your capacity to share joy as well. When you callously ignore the suffering of others, you lose the capacity to share their happiness, too. And however little joy we may see in this world, the sharing of it, together with the good we ourselves create, produces the only happiness which makes life tolerable….”
It is always a joy to connect with any person like ourselves who lives with depression everyday and give them the serenity and peace which they are looking for.
In our Twelve Step program of recovery, we know all about compassion and healing the hurts of those still suffering-especially those persons depressed. It is when a person who has worked through all of the Twelve Steps reaches the Twelfth Step that they realize that now that they have experience the healing power of their work with the Steps – now they will want to share this “gift” of recovery with all those persons who are “still suffering.” It is in the sharing of their own experiences and suffering that will lead others to the hope that they too will have the same peace and joy as those of us who have lived out the Promises given to us by the spiritual principles of Depressed Anonymous.
The Twelfth Step tells us that “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to the depressed, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.”
SOURCES: (c)Albert Schweitzer. Essential writings. (2005) Introduction by James Brabazon. Orbis Books. NY. Pages 148-149.
(c)Depressed Anonymous 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. (2011) Louisville.
(c) I’ll do it when I feel better. (2014) Depressed Anonymous Publications.Louisville.