Compassion is the understanding or empathy for the suffering of others. It is regarded as a fundamental part of human love, and a cornerstone of greater social interconnection and humanism.
I have difficulty with compassion sometimes. I think the majority of us humans do. I think there are a lot of reasons we find to not exercise compassion. One of my favorites, is “they made choices to get themselves where they are, they deserve what they are getting”. I also like to utilize this little number, “There are government programs out there to help them, why do I need to be involved?” I think the government has taken over a lot of what the church should be doing, and it may have ruined my thoughts on helping people less fortunate then me. That doesn’t mean I should not think about what my neighbor might need.
I have been given a few opportunities to see first hand third world countries where the poor really do have nothing. America, doesn’t know what poor is. Our poor, are rich to so many. These people living in third world places don’t have government who takes from others and gives to them. (Their government takes from others, but doesn’t give it to the people that need it) Most of those people do not have families who are rich and share with them. The people there do not get checks in the mail box to feed their family and pay their rent. Many are lucky if they do get a meal once a day. Let alone healthcare.
I feel compassion for them.
When I hear about poverty with my ears, I may feel some compassion, when I see poverty and the scale a human being is living on, I feel a lot more, and when I can reach out and touch it, my heart breaks.
I hear about some parents who do not want their children to see pictures of children eating from garbage dumps. They get mad at the teacher who is telling their kids stories at VBS about the rawness of reality. What may I ask, are those parents afraid of? (And yes, I know of an instance parents complained of this.) How on God’s earth, could they possibly expect their children to develop compassion for anyone, if they shield and protect them from what life is really like? How will they understand that they are so blessed? How will they learn that they live in a bubble and that there is so much more to their lives then thinking about the next toy, or party? And why, are they choosing VBS to pick a fight with? How about the television? Or Hollywood, or halloween parties with scary things? I mean really, where do you raise your kid? Because the world I live in, has a lot of trash and uncomfortable things in it.
My kids are slightly to young to be taken where they can “reach out and touch it”. However, I intend to take each of my kids to a country that they can hear, see , smell and touch the poverty before they are out of the house. It will change them for the better. Right now, they can hear about it and they can see it, and in a few cases touch it. I take every opportunity to share with my children pictures that help them see, what they really have. To share stories to help them learn, they are blessed. My oldest son has asked me on more then one occasion, “mom, why are you showing this to me?” He was obviously uncomfortable by what I was showing him. I knew he was touched by it. I told him, ” son, it is not because this is a picture I like to look at, but it teaches us that we have so much and this person has so little and that compassion is not something that grows without watering it. I show you these things because I want you to become a compassionate man. In order for you to become a compassionate man, your heart must be broken for others.”
We have a picture of a small african child, who was starving so bad, she was to weak to make it to the food cart. A buzzard lies in wait behind her. My heart bleeds every time I see it. I show my kids, to help them see, how blessed they are to have a dinner in front of them, even if they do not like it. And to get their little minds thinking and stretched.
I will never know, what sort of seeds will be planted within their hearts for what The Lord may call them to do one day. But I do know, that I shouldn’t cover their eyes when it comes to “appropriate aged things” and expect them to grow their compassion.
Each time we read, we see, we touch the hurt and pain of others, we are watering our plants of compassion and our own hearts grow further into Thankfulness for the blessings we forgot were there. We can and will find Joy in doing what we can to put salve on the wounds and hardships of others lives. But before we can do this, we need to know where to act. And its not by covering our ears and eyes.
“When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package”