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Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and documentary. The Minimalists have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Forbes, TIME, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, BBC, and NPR.

Compassion for Hypocrites

The man who protests capitalism using a megaphone he purchased from Walmart. The woman who tweets about income inequality on a device made by underpaid workers. The environmentalist who flies to their next save-the-planet rally. The political pundit who pontificates about censorship on a media platform that reaches millions. The vegan who sprays insecticide on her garden. The minimalist who owns six jackets (me).

We are all hypocrites. And we are all suffering on some level. So, instead of pointing fingers, let’s find compassion for the people who disagree with us, the people who anger us, the people on the “wrong” side of the issue.

Compassion is composed of the Latin preposition com (with) and the verb passus (to suffer). Meaning, to have compassion, we must simply be with someone who’s suffering. We needn’t feel their suffering (that’s empathy), nor must we remove their grief or provide countless solutions; we need only bear witness.

I can hug you, even if I don’t agree with you.
I can listen to you, even if I don’t want to hear you.
I can love you, even if I don’t like every piece of you.

If we can do this—if we can temper our interactions with compassion—then we have a chance to ease our collective suffering.