I am reading Sherwin B Nuland’s “The Art of Aging” and in chapter 2 he writes about the weakening of the immune system over the age of 60 and what we can do, peripherally, to reduce the weakening and possibly strengthen it.
Regular readers know that I often latch onto an idea and twist it 72 degrees to see what happens and what I observe. In this case, I started wondering about a compassion immune system – how we react to the tragedies and calamities of others.
A strong compassion immune system allows me to fight off the feelings of sadness, benevolence and other forms of caring. It may reduce the ability and willingness to act in support of others. I may even feel superior in my non-tragic and non-calamitous circumstances. Some symptoms of a strong compassion immune system are a blind eye, a cold heart, and a twitching thumb over the channel changer of a remote control. Maintenance of this strong system is easy. You just need to continue not caring, not noticing and not acting. The inertia of the system adds thickness to the skin and further reduces the temperature of the heart. Left alone the compassion immune system will isolate, blame, chastise, and lead to solitude and silence.
Weakening the compassion immune system takes work and time. Caring no longer seems to come easily. We need to restructure our environment so that we come into more direct contact with others. We must evaluate our own weaknesses and seek assistance from others. We should seek opportunities to walk alongside or in the shoes of others. But as with strengthening, the more we weaken the more opportunities to weaken further arise.
The symptoms are harder for you to discern but others may begin advising you that you have a bleeding heart, rose colored glasses and a cloak of martyrdom. Ignore their diagnosis for they are trying to strengthen your immunity to the world around you.
Be weak today and get weaker tomorrow,