As part of my ServiceSpace summer internship, I interviewed various people about their relationship to pain and suffering. The individuals I talked to were willing to reflect on pain and suffering, unfold decades of their lives and share insights with a young stranger whom they had never met before.
In a conversation with John Malloy, he said, “Sharing is our nature. When we share, we heal suffering.” John’s life is dedicated to tending to people who suffer. After working as a counselor for prisoners and troubled youth, to leading The American Indian Spiritual Marathon for nearly four decades, John said, “None of the kids had criminal minds. I was never fooled by the personality of the kid — it’s a veil to the soul. I always went for the soul.”
Towards the end of our conversation, I asked John how he faces his own sufferings while always serving others. John revealed that he had experienced a great deal of loss in his life, including the passing of his only son and the loss of sight in his left eye. However, “we have an innate capacity to heal”. After two years of grieving, he grew stronger through his losses, not weaker. “As we face our pain and suffering, we see what we are supposed to do is to care for others,” said John.
When we hurt others, we are not only responsible for ourselves or the ones we hurt, but also for the ones they are going to hurt. If instead we choose compassion, this world turns brighter. As Audrey Lin beautifully puts it, “In the end there is only kindness. At the end of the day we are all going to go, but what stays behind are those small acts; those are acts maybe paid forward by so many others. […It’s] what inspires me to keep living.”
Sharing makes us more human; becoming more human leads us towards the compassion that is inherent in our nature.