Looking around our world today and its state of affairs, compassion for one another seems to be absent. At least, it seems so on the surface. But what does it really mean to show compassion? Compassion is the feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another, particularly if they have experienced a hardship or misfortune, and includes the desire to help alleviate that circumstance. So, compassion is not just a feeling or emotion, but includes the instinct to take action, to help, to console, to comfort.
Why do we fail to show compassion? Perhaps it’s because showing compassion requires us to put ourselves out there, to show vulnerability, to feel, to sacrifice something. Sadly, the side effect of shutting ourselves off from our fellow human beings is a sad, ugly world.
My faith requires me to be compassionate, to learn more about compassion and how to show it to others. The greatest example to me of compassion is Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan. Through this example we learn that when we see someone suffering we are to recognize that one, the person is suffering and two, we are to help alleviate their suffering. We are to help our neighbor. And who is our neighbor—everyone. Our fellow human beings. Not just our own family, not just our own countrymen, not just those like us—but everyone. Because we are all part of the human family. In other words, we are to treat others the way we would want to be treated.
We can reach beyond our efforts of individual compassion. As a society, we can practice collective compassion. We can support programs in our communities that lift up others who are experiencing difficult life situations, whether those situations be temporary or perennial. At the state and federal level, we can support policies and statutes that reflect the value of compassion. We can advocate for programs and services that meet the needs of the most vulnerable—those who are unable to advocate for themselves.
The most important place to start, however, is right in our own heart. Mother Teresa reminds us that, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” The next time someone cuts us off in traffic, we can offer them a little grace and not yell ugly words at them. The next time we see someone without a basic need, we can offer what we have. When we know someone is elderly and lives alone, we can take them a meal. There are so many places to start and so many needs to meet. Maybe, if we all just practiced one act of compassion each day, the world could become a kinder, more compassionate place.
This week's blog writer is Sabra Tucker. Sabra Tucker is the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Retired Educators Association, representing the interests of over 62,000 retired teachers, support professionals, and school administrators. She has been with the association just under two years. Prior to serving at OREA, she spent a number of years in education as a National Board Certified teacher, curriculum director, and school administrator. She has experience in all levels of education from early childhood to college. She also has worked in state government at the Oklahoma Tax Commission and the Oklahoma Office of Personnel Management. With degrees in both education and business, she now focuses on the public policy that affects education professionals, retirement issues, and public pensions. She specializes in assisting retirees and in protecting the benefits they have earned as school professionals. She and her husband of 31 years, Mike, a retired air force officer, live in Shawnee. They have three grown children and four grandchildren.