Monday, October 26, 2009

More On Compassion

A Friend's Thoughts With Mine Added

I thought that my friend would have something to say here, and I am glad he did. Here is what a friend, Joshua, commented to my last Posting on (Com)Passion:
There are particular words - very important ones - that we hear and read less frequently than before. When important words fall into obscurity, we risk losing the connection with what they mean/represent.

"Compassion" and "vocation" come to mind almost immediately as "threatened words". And - I hesitate to point this out but... - social activism and volunteerism have not filled the void left by "the vocational calling" etc to medicine/healing, the priesthood, a religious order, public service.

Imagine how different our country might be if individual members of our political elites actually felt a "vocational calling to serve Canadians and Canada". Instead, we have "career politicians" many of whom have never worked for any sustained period of time in the kind of employment situations common to Canadian citizens.

Compassion is a whole different matter. In a world in which empathy is often misplaced and just as frequently turned on its head completely by our media and courts, genuine compassion has become lost in the mists of time.

Webster's Dictionary defines compassion as "...pity aroused by the distress of others, with the desire to help them." And I think that is a good secular definition of the word.

In matters spiritual, however, I believe compassion assumes a greater importance as it addresses a fundamental value of Christianity. For purposes our our discussion, then, I would suggest "compassion" be defined without reference to "pity".

I suggest we replace "pity" with "love". Pity should not incite/motivate us to help and support those in need, our living Christian love should do that.

"Pity" can be acquired/elicited through deception by fraudsters of myriad descriptions.

But I know one thing about love: LOVE ALWAYS PREVAILS

Maybe I shouldn't argue with dictionaries...

I'd much rather discuss these things here with you people.
Amen, Brother.

So, a definition of Compassion would be: "love aroused by the distress of others, with the desire to help them."

So, in that context, a number of moves to increase volunteerism, like in the US, Disney giving a day at their theme park for a day of volunteering, and students in Ontario high school needing 40 hours of volunteer work to graduate do not by their nature raise Compassion. It is highly possible that some people will be moved by the people that they have volunteered to assist, to follow an urging that has arisen in their hearts to do more, but there is no guarantee.

My dear wife has often told me when I have suggested doing this or that, that if it is not in my heart, don't do it. To prove her wrong, I did some things anyway. She was right, me not at all. We all have in our hearts the desire to make the world better for others. That it is getting trained out of us, as we leave it to the government to do, is turning us into less that we have all been called to be.

Let us all stir up Compassion that is within each of us to make the world better in love and charity. Call it volunteerism if you must, but as my dear wife would tell you, do it from your heart. In fact, I suggest that before jumping in and breaking others hearts by doing a bump and run that you let it percolate a bit, so you know that you know that this is what you want to do for others, because of the love that is pouring from your heart. If you follow my wife's advice, it won't be volunteerism, though it will look on the outside like it. It will be Compassion.

And actually, even more importantly, it may then become a vocation, like the family in Philo IL, last night on Extreme Home Makeover, who have dedicated their lives, as a family to making food and clothing available to those who would otherwise do without at their food bank, so aptly called Salt & Light. If you saw the show, you saw the light that was in their eyes from youngest to oldest. And they were definitely salt to all those around them.

One moment in the show was poignant for us. At Disney World, the family opened a package that had a model of their old house in it, and a note that said Mortgage Paid In Full. My wife and I were sure that what went through the minds of the family, especially the parents was that the money they had to gather each month for a mortgage payment could now go to the food bank.

They do not do what they do to get a new house from ABC, nor for their own glory. They do it because they have acted on the Compassion stirred in their hearts. You can see it in their eyes.


Joshua S. said...

What a great sounding family, Michael. I wish I'd seen that broadcast. Perhaps I'll catch it when it is rerun. I sure hope so!

Michael Brandon said...

They are a "tears to your eyes" story, from the 5 year old on up.