Compassion should be at the heart of who we are. It would be difficult to live in a society and culture that shows no compassion for each other. Compassion is selfless. It is not just focusing on our own problems. It is looking at the lives around us. Compassion has a far-reaching impact, more than we can ever know. It may be something as simple as a smile that brightens someone’s day, or it may be something as hard as grieving with your friends through sickness or loss. The following story is a great example of compassion:
Mark was walking home from school one day when he noticed the boy ahead of him had tripped and dropped all of the books he was carrying, along with two sweaters, a baseball bat, a glove, and a small tape recorder. Mark knelt down and helped the boy pick up the scattered articles. Since they were heading in the same direction, he helped to carry the burden. As they walked along, Mark discovered the boy’s name was Bill, that he loved video games, baseball, and history, that he was having a lot of trouble with his other subjects, and that he had just broken up with his girlfriend. They arrived at Bill’s home first, and Mark was invited in for a Coke and to watch some TV. The afternoon passed pleasantly with a few laughs and some shared small talk, and then Mark went home. They continued to see each other around school, had lunch together once or twice. They ended up at the same high school where they had brief contact over the years.
Finally, the long-awaited senior year came, and three weeks before graduation, Bill asked Mark if they could talk. Bill reminded him of the day years ago when they first met. “Did you ever wonder why I was carrying so many things home from school that day?” asked Bill. “You see, I had cleaned out my locker because I didn’t want to leave a mess for anyone else. I had stored away some of my mother’s pills, and I was going home to commit suicide. But after we spent some time together, I realized that if I had done so, I would have missed that time and others that might follow. So you see, Mark, when you picked up my books for me that day, you did a lot more. You saved my life.”
As Leo Buscaglia said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Be willing to show compassion. Smile at strangers and ask friends how they are doing. You never know when you may be saving a life.