Dr. Julian Abel is a retired palliative care physician, Director of Compassionate Communities UK, author, and podcaster. He is an expert on how compassion can transform communities and writes about this in his book The Compassion Project: A Case for Hope and Human Kindness from a Town that Beat Loneliness, co-written with Lindsay Clarke. His podcast Survival of the Kindest discusses themes around kindness and how we can put kindness at the heart of our lives, towns, and society.
For my book Upward, I had the pleasure and privilege of interviewing Dr Julian. He is passionate and knowledgeable about the difference compassion and kindness can make in healthcare, communities and individual lives. Below is an excerpt from the chapter in book book titled Together.
We talk in more depth about the need for humans coming together and why we are stronger as a result of our togetherness. “We’ve kind of got fixated in the West on independence and when you go to indigenous or Aboriginal communities, they're not fixated on independence, they are much more interested in interdependence. We don't exist as isolated beings. If you put people in solitary confinement it is torture. And the reason is because our social connectedness is really so fundamental”. Belonging to each other is vital for our survival, but we are meant for more than just getting by. Compassion and connection through creative interaction provides a far better option for our wellbeing, our humanity, our earth and our wholeness.
Dr Julian conforms this “When you're thinking about changing our perspective on the world and improving our health as a consequence, (it is vital) to think about interdependence, and in particular I like the way that the First Nations community talk about it because they talk about kinship and all my relations. And when they say that it's not just the people who are related to us by blood, it's everyone around us and it's not just the people, it's the animals and it's the air we breathe and the water we drink and the food that we eat. In fact, it's the whole earth”.
When we start to look beyond ourselves, we can see a whole world in need of our self. It really changes how you begin to see even the smallest acts – their impact on the whole of us. “And so that sense of relationship is, when you start to think about it, even if you think about it for a short while, we are totally and utterly interdependent. There isn't anything that we don't depend on other people for. Even the air we breathe because we've done so much damage to it and the water we drink. Everything requires the help of other people and on a physical level, of course that's important, but on a social psychological level it is fundamentally important as well”.
I love this phrase 'all my relations' and how knowing that we are all connected through every facet of the universe, and allowing that to shape our actions in appreciating each other, car lead to a far better way to live in this world. Desmond Tutu once said "I need you in order for me to be me. I need you to be you to the fullest." What a powerful thought, that as we each become more of ourselves, we enable others to become more themselves.
Let's look up, together. Reaching out beyond ourselves and live lives of fullness for each other. I'd love to know your thoughts on this and how you choose to connect with others and how you intend to be the fullest you. Let me know in the comments below or on my Instagram @iamsarahalexcarter
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