FAITH column

Amid the hectic hassles of working, parenting, paying bills and domestic duties, many people seem oblivious to the trials and tribulations of others.

The pain and suffering of heartache and hardship are often intangible, shrouded by a shameful stigma that silences their plight.

Most people pursue life preoccupied by their own personal issues and problems, usually perceived as sanguine self-interest, without realising their real fortune of enjoying good health, warm and cosy environs to sleep in and food on the table.

The incidence of suicide and mental ill-health is increasing across all cultures and walks of life, and affects all ages, including Magpie star Dayne Beams, among other celebrated footballers.

It thus seems imperative to reflect on their situation with understanding and empathy to appease the destructive discrimination they often confront.

With the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health’s System revealing narratives of abuse and mistreatment, it is important we don’t indulge in a lip service sympathy that can be inadvertently misplaced.

Expressing condolence may not be especially comforting; supportive optimism and constructive advice can be far more effective, inspiring appropriate action and more significantly, genuine sentiments of solace and succour. Investing time, energy and compassion in those who are psychologically distressed can reap immeasurable rewards that save lives.

The Oxford Dictionary defines compassion as “pity”, which can sometimes have negative connotations, but appreciating pity may incline “one to be helpful or merciful” can engender a positive outcome that surpasses sorrow.

For despite receiving counselling or medication for their ills, friendship that is sensitive and sincere may be more reassuring than a superficial doctor’s surgery.

Being a good friend, listening intently and reading between the lines, however challenging and complex, may achieve more than pill-popping; a panacea of amity no professional can proffer.

Most religions acknowledge the creative power of compassion, a universal theological tenet recorded in Isaiah 49:13 as “the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones,” while Proverbs 31:8-9 implores to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…defend the rights of the poor and needy”.

Certainly, the faith of kindness permeating Isaiah 30:18 “…the LORD…will rise up to show you compassion…” is an emotional response we can, or should, all endeavour to emulate.