Excellence Reporter: Mérida, what makes a compassionate city, or community?
Mérida McCarthy: To me, a compassionate city is a caring city, where solidarity is the basis of all action. Where everyone in a city is looked after, taken care for, not only by the government, but by each other too, an interdependence between all sectors, a strong commitment to all living beings.
I measure compassion at an individual level by observing how much does one person do for another, without judging what or to whom they do. Compassion can involve just taking care of your own anger, learning how you feel and can control it when the neighbor complains about your dog’s mess, stepping into their shoes and finding a practical solution that helps you all. Compassion can be helping and elder to cross the street, as much as creating a system where the needs of all our elders are covered. It can be to pay a meal for someone in need, as well as creating a system where meals are paid for thousands of people in need. Compassion can mean simply sitting with someone and listening as they let the pain in their heart poor out, as well as taking them to a place they might want to visit and brings a smile to their face. You might decide to find out more about what worries you, study the subject, become an expert and dedicate your life to it as a job.
Everyday I look out for opportunities to share my abilities and knowledge to help others, mainly it’s in the form of a warmhearted smile, understanding and caring words wherever I go. Meditation takes up about an hour of my day where I let go and deepen into my daily routine. I get involved with institutions that I trust to be compassionate such as the Worldwide Meeting on Human Values (EMV), and other NGOs who might benefit from my skills and who are doing any work to help others. One NGO is dedicated to road safety, taking into account road safety measures for children crossing roads in school areas, as well as giving safety tips to drivers in order to protect pedestrians. I’ve worked in schools that are in urgent need of support to help children in vulnerable situations, giving lectures and classes to both teachers and children, I’ve worked at the orphanage accompanying minors in the process of being adopted using art therapy. I’m an environmental activist trying to find ways to reduce pollution levels and awaken the society to the fact we MUST DO something to counteract the effects of climate change. I also like to connect the different groups working on the same subjects, since one of the problems is that groups are formed with no relation to another, it could be so enriching if they connected to each other and shared their visions, ideals and experiences.
There is so much to do in the city I live in, so much is also being done. There are a few groups that have taken on the task of uniting people, one is EMV and Ezer where you can find what is needed with regards to being a volunteer, the other is a council created for the people to share their discomforts with regards to the city and link them to the appropriate government section or private organization involved; there is a reforestation project that works with local governments, they plant trees in parks where the neighbors sign to take care of them, another group helps the indigenous minorities in the area, maybe they’ll build them a house, or take them warm clothing in winter. One of my favorite groups, Reto4mil, trains women to build their own business, and understand basic finances even if they can’t read or write.
My idea of a compassionate city would be one where solidarity is praised, where the needs of everyone are met with care and love, where businesses unite to help their workers, clients are happy because their needs are met too, the workers and clients and businesses unite to help their families, where families and communities gather to find ways of helping the Earth… and the government helps and encourages all this to happen through example and facilities.
I believe individuals first need to believe they CAN. They need to feel they are an important part of the community, and that the community will thrive with them. They also need to understand what they can DO, what TOOLS and MEANS are available to them, this may include putting them in touch with other people, organizations, etc. In a community that has never felt wellness or peace, it’s hard for them to even understand wellness or peace, give them chances to feel that, and move on from there to find out what can be done as community to maintain and enhance the wellness and the peace.
~I’m Mérida McCarthy, British, grew up mostly in Nigeria and Spain and currently live in Monterrey, Mexico. I’ve travelled the world quite a lot, and love to get to know people from all over, any culture, tradition and social status. Ever since I was a child, due to the many injustices I encountered, I’ve been looking for a way to express my inner feelings and ways to help the World be a better place. I’ve been cooperating closely with the Charter for Compassion and the Worldwide Meeting on Human Values for the last 4 years, helping to set the pace for Compassionate Cities here in Monterrey. I studied Environment and Social Development with the Open University, UK and then went on to find out what triggers people to be more aware of the environment and care for it. Through studying psychology and psychotherapy, I came to understand that meditation and mindfulness are essential to developing the skills required to look after our Mother Earth. I’ve always had an interest in religions of the world, and interfaith groups mainly due to having lived in different societies, catholic and Muslim – as humans we have much more in common than not. Always trying to keep my feet on the ground, my heart open, and my mind active.
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Categories: What Makes a Compassionate City?