Friday, October 4, 2019

The Art of Compassion

This week it was my pleasure to host a CPR class for our company's emergency response team.  This team is comprised of employees from various departments.  We do not pay them an extra salary, nor do we force anyone to become responders.  We simply open the training up to those people who want to help their fellow man in a time of need.

The response that I receive is one part inspiring, and one part depressing.  On one hand, there are the 10% of the employee population that eagerly raises their hands.  They know that they could be faced with a situation of dire and critical need, such as a severe injury or a heart attack.  Yet they have an inner compassion to protect human life.  I'm very proud of that 10%.

The saddest part is the 90% of those who are not interested in helping their fellow man in the time of crisis.  Perhaps I'm judging these folks too harshly, but many of the reasons behind their reluctance is simply a shield for apathy.  I had folks tell me that they cannot deal with "blood and guts" very well.  Who among us does??  I explain that being an emergency response person can also mean helping to obtain supplies, call 9-1-1, direct ambulances, crowd control, and other non "blood and guts" activities.  They still won't be bothered and I certainly can't force them.

My guess is that this 10%-90% ration is pretty indicative of many other things.  For instance, its common knowledge that 90% of volunteer work done for a church is performed by 10% of the congregation.  Imagine if those numbers were made to be an even 50% split what a difference would be made in our world in general.  

I believe we have come to accept that compassion is the exception instead of the rule.  We need to ask ourselves why this has happened.  Is it because society has decided that it is "too busy" to worry about the problems of others?  Is it because we have watched "leaders" who have shown themselves to openly insult, degrade, and demean others that we have accepted this as the norm?  And how much of this apathy has been adopted by our children, thus further watering compassion down for the next generation?

I'm always shocked when I'm in a class where the question is asked "how many of you are organ donors?", and only half or less of the hands go up.  It's a personal choice...yes.  But I cannot, for the life of me, think of a valid reason not to do it.  To me, this should be an absolute no-brainer.  If I die suddenly I want for others to benefit from my organs.  If I can help a blind person see, a burn victim with new skin, give an organ to someone desperately needing one, or veins for a person needing them, sign me up!  I've actually heard people say "I don't want to have someone butcher me up after I'm dead".  You're D-E-A-D...vanity should really stop there.

Raising my children has taught me many lessons in compassion.  For Tyler, we had to learn to see the world through his eyes and understand his fears and anxieties.  Even when he was being aggressive, we had to have compassion for what caused these behaviors within him.  Compassion was also a key element in how we judged the performance of a physician or medical provider.  We expected compassion from schools, buses, nurses, and anyone else who worked with Tyler.  We considered this the most minimum skill that they had to possess.

Sam is a different story.  She is a very compassionate person who has her feelings hurt when others do not treat her in kind.  Even as a smaller child, I would see her act in kind ways toward others.  I remember when she was about 5 we were at a zoo where you could feed some animals.  While other kids were jockeying to get to the best spot, Sam spotted a little girl without feed.  She asked if she could give the little girl some of hers.  I'd like to believe this was all from things I have taught her, but I know much of it is just naturally in her heart.

Lets try to remember, today and every day, that compassion is the door that opens up so many other things.  When we show compassion first, so much other great things will follow.  But unless we can grow that 10%, I think we will continue to struggle as a society.

Be well and God bless.     Tom