Compassion is defined as sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. I don’t define compassion that way. I do not think pity is compassion, in fact I view pity as condescending and disingenuous. To me compassion is care and concern, it is putting others before ourselves when needed it is kindness, empathy and selflessness all rolled up in one.
I have looked compassion in the eye. I have seen it in action on more than one occasion. No I am not a Pollyanna or bleeding heart, and I have seen it with the naked eye, not rose colored glasses.
I see compassion each day in my co-workers; Special education teachers that give of themselves in order to advocate and encourage others. Yes teaching is a career, we get paid, but trust me if it was only a pay check most would not stay in the career. I am thankful to say that the teachers I work with think of their career as a passion and love the kids as their very own. They are the first to step in when their students are not being treated with kindness or compassion.
I have witnessed some of the greatest acts of compassion at special needs camps run by young adults. Many folks scoff at the young people of today, saying they are lazy, selfish and self-centered. I am here to tell you to have faith in the next generation, they are some of the most compassionate beings on the planet.
I always considered the friends my daughter hung out with in high school to be kind and compassionate individuals. They were always accepting of our son with differing abilities and many of them worked at the summer day camp for special needs kids, teens and adults in the community. As my daughter went off to college, she again surrounded herself with young adults that had a true compassion and sense of caring for others. She began working at a summer camp on the other side of the state that gives adults with developmental and physical disabilities the true over night camping experience. It was there that she found her calling and love for working with those with differing abilities. When my husband and I went to visit you could have knocked me over with a feather. Here were young adults in their late teens and early twenties not only working with these campers but developing friendships and relationships with them. The counselors and health staff are on 24/7 and give of themselves freely so that the campers can have THE most amazing experiences. To witness these young adults that have never had children of their own and many who have had limited experience with the special needs population connecting with the campers in a way that makes any parent proud is true compassion. The counselors spend the entire summer working with campers week after week getting limited sleep and limited breaks. Sure, they get paid but again, there is NO denying that this is much more than a job, the connection between campers and counselors is undeniable.
So parents, teach your children well, live as an example of care and compassion and your children will follow in your footsteps. There will always be a@@holes in the world that get their kicks from bullying and belittling but I believe that Compassion is alive and well and you don’t have to look too far to find it if you foster it yourself.