By Jim Heckel
President, Think Humanity
Human beings are the most advanced forms of life known to exist. While not the apex predator physically, our evolution has enabled us to master our environment through complex mental problem-solving. You might say that our brains took over our brawn. The human spirit, however, is still deeply competitive, where our ‘survival of the fittest’ instinct arises. Despite this innate nature to survive, we now do not have to typically fight for our lives. Fighting for our food is no longer a major problem that requires massively big bodies. Technological solutions from dirt now insulate our need to hunt and gather.
God clearly knew that we would reach this level of civilization because in His teachings, He implored mankind not to make war, but to love and to take care of one another. You might say that God commanded us to develop some sort of compassion. Maybe He knew that at this time in civilization, we’d need a reminder to not be so selfish?
My mom recently told me that she tears up when she sees the orphan children on the tube and she feels so sorry for them. My mother is a great person and taught me to love. But compassion is something different than mere pity.
Compassion spans far beyond pity. Pity might be the first step in its awareness followed by compassion and empathy. Whereas compassion is the ability to feel for another living being, empathy is the ability to become one with the person in distress.
Life development requires parents to expand their children’s perspective. It requires teaching love and compassion. Compassion is lowering yourself into the pit of another’s suffering, driven from the motive of love. Allowing yourself to become part of the suffering of another allows us to become empathetic.
We WORK the problem alongside the person in need.
We LIVE the problem.
We BECOME part of the solution to the problem.
“Oh that’s terrible.”
“I must help.”
Seeing the issue only
Being in the issue to resolve it
It’s being a human doing.
Parents must show such compassion to teach it to their kids. And it doesn’t require becoming a missionary; it is lived out in our daily lives by treating all humanity in a decent way. Ranging from being an honest golfer to helping someone fix a flat tire, all acts of graciousness count. In fact, some of the largest compassionate work stems from simple acts of kindness. Several years ago, my daughter, a journalist/author/editor, wrote a piece that went viral entitled “The Ripple Effect.” In this article she articulated how positive work in the States has a positive impact in far away places, much like a ripple in a pond. The article spawned a new NGO and that seemingly small ‘pebble in the pond’ resulted in helping thousands of people.
That’s human doing.
Why do we need compassion?
Developing compassion and empathy in our children helps them to become a complete human. Learning to help others is quite basic and most people have some ‘pity’ for the poor. Just acknowledging it, however, fails to address solving the problem. Compassion requires action and an overt behavior where personal resources may be required.
Analogous to compassion might be owning an expensive sports car. The car looks fantastic in pictures and has all the new technological feature making it state of the art. Everyone loves this new car; it’s eye candy.
The car, however, is not complete unless it can provide the utility of transportation. Failing to put gas into the tank will render this expensive sports car useless, save for photographs. The same is true about compassion.
Failing to have any compassion about our fellow neighbors must make God scratch His holy head. He could not have been clearer about our duties as Believers when it comes to the poor. And we need to teach this same thing to our children so their lives can also be fulfilled to the utmost and achieving their overall purpose in life.
The good news is that being a compassionate person requires little effort and resources. It is simply about being a nice person to all people, helping where we can, doing our best. It’s taking a slight risk but knowing that whatever we do will help.
Being compassionate is the one job we cannot screw up. Anything is better than nothing.
Some fail to even want to talk about compassion because they feel it means giving up something. They operate out of fear of loss and fail to obtain the blessing of Faith.
Faith, not fear, allows us to become compassionate. Fear keeps us locked in our homes, never venturing further than our own domain for fear of discomfort. Fear traps us into thinking that our only purpose is to acquire more and to achieve higher promotions at work. Fear keeps us as human beings whereas Faith allows us to become human doers.
…and faith without works is dead.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by G.L.O.B.A.L. Justice. We are a faith-based, nonpartisan organization that seeks to extend the conversation about justice with a posture of dignity and respect.