Here's Alejandra Posada with her essay for KUHF's This I Believe.
"Maybe you've heard that quotation about treating everyone with kindness, because everyone is struggling. I can remember seeing that quote for the first time when I was a teenager. It struck a deep chord for me. To me, that is the essence of compassion — recognizing that other people are struggling too.
In day-to-day life, it's easy for me to forget this — particularly when stuck in Houston traffic! My muscles tense up, and compassion for the other drivers is the last thing on my mind — I just want them out of the way! Sometimes, though, I'm able to step back from all that and think for a moment about the driver in the car next to mine. Maybe he's tired. Maybe she's lost her job. This other person has worries and problems just like me. When I remember that, whatever situation I'm in ceases to be all about me. The traffic jam, for example, is not the highway's personal vendetta against me. So I breathe more easily. And I'm kinder to others.
I don't act compassionately all the time. But I believe in working those moments of compassion, of awareness, into my daily life, and perhaps little by little they can become more and more of a way of life.
When I need some inspiration, I look to famous role models like Mahatma Gandhi or Albert Schweitzer, but also to not-so-famous ones whom I have been lucky enough to know — people like my grandfather Diego, who found work for impoverished residents of Bogot, or my friend Kathy, who teaches young teenagers what it means to live compassionately in this world.
So what does it mean? I believe it means recognizing the struggle of other people — both those I know and those I'll never meet — and acting upon that recognition. How? By being kind, by helping. By saying a friendly word to a tired cashier. By devoting some time or money — or both — to a cause I care about. By patronizing businesses whose social policies I support, such as fair trade businesses.
I'm working on all this. Some days I live more compassionately than others. And I've found that when I'm compassionate with myself, it's much easier to be compassionate with others. So I'm also working on taking care of myself. I believe it's all part of the same equation.
And I believe, deeply and fervently, that cultivating a life of compassion is an incredibly powerful tool for a better world."