In a modest room at the Davis Community Church on Thursday night, a group of familiar and friendly faces gathered for a single purpose: to hear the story about one man and his journey in discovering compassion.
David Breaux, known as the “Compassion Guy” on Third and C Street in downtown Davis, started his mission two years ago with mere pen and scraps of paper; recording countless interpretations of what residents of the community considered compassion to be in their own words.
Breaux began the compilation on June 3, 2009 and released his book Compassion Davis, CA: A Compilation of Concepts on Compassion, which is comprised of thousands of anonymous entries gathered from June to December of 2009. With an electronic version of his book released online at venues such as Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble early June of this year, a documentary entitled Standing Compassion directed by UC Davis technocultural studies students Anna Hossnieh and Evan Davis, and published articles featuring his story, one thing is for sure: Breaux’s search for true compassion is bearing a notable effect beyond the confined parameters of Third and C.
Even with the success, Breaux’s continues to use the book remains a medium and tool to further his discovery. As Breaux reveals in his discussion, his journey continues through the contribution of others in defining compassion.
“What is compassion?” Breaux asked the audience before he began his story. He continued, “That’s a question that I’ve asked 10,000 times and I’ve gotten about 5,000 responses. I do not claim to know everything about compassion because of that. And that is why I’ve asked you to be there this evening.”
But Breaux’s story does not begin in Davis. As Breaux shared, his story began in Oakland in May of 2008 when he hit a rough part in his life. Breaux then began to explore the idea of rejecting the material world and focusing more on the human spirit. Through online researching, Breaux discovered Karen Armstrong and Peace Pilgrim who both greatly used the concept of compassion to fuel their work and dedication.
During a very intimate moment, Breaux asked the audience to share a memory where they were physically hurt to a stranger in the room. The interaction revealed a profound human connection between members and the importance of lending an ear and listening. One volunteered said, “Since I sensed that this person was going to listen, truly listen, I felt like I could talk about something I couldn’t normally talk about. I don’t talk about it because I don’t feel like people are normally listening and they just quickly judge.”
Near the end of the night, Breaux premiered Compassion PhotoBooth: Davis, CA-a video compilation of what various Davis residents considered compassion to be. As one participator said, “Compassion comes from a deep part of ourselves, like the core of who we are.”
Breaux said that he will continue to stand on the corner of Third and C Monday through Sunday until his journey is completed.
“I’m just glad to see that there are still people out there in the world who are so firm and so confident in their beliefs, that they devote their lives to it and take action in their own unique ways,” said Deeba Yavrom, a contributing photographer in Breaux’s book. “David is 100 percent that person. For me personally, I’m just proud to be a part of something that I feel is so positive and proud to see it moving forward the way it has, knowing that since it’s moving forward, something about it must be right.”
What does compassion mean to you? To see what others have to say, you can purchase Compassion Davis, CA: A Compilation of Concepts on Compassion online on Amazon.com, from Breaux directly, or visit compassionguy.ning.com.
UYEN CAO can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.