Unless this is your first visit here, you know I’m all about teaching kids to be good people. What form of “goodness” am I after? Who cares? Good is good. Let’s not quibble.
If I had to choose one flavor of goodness over another, however, I’d say I’m partial to the kind that connects us to the suffering of others with a grip so powerful that we simply cannot resist the temptation to do something to try to make the other guy feel better. This is compassion. Not complicated and yet, in many homes, schools, city streets, compassion seems to be MIA. Why is that? I’ve got a theory. (Unless this is your first visit, you also know I’m very generous with my theories.)
OK, here’s how it works: Within me (and each of you) is a vat overflowing with opinions, assumptions, fears and all the rest of what I secretly stockpile and use to avoid doing the right thing, which is often a scary thing but at the same time, a good thing. Submerged under the fearsome muck lies a luminous pearl. When you pull the plug and let the bubbling crude drain out of the vat, (which just takes an instant because the conscious act of pulling the plug awakens you to the fact that while your inventory is er… interesting, it’s not really you at all) the pearl emerges and vaporizes your resistance to acting compassionately. Which is a helluva lot more helpful than sitting on your butt and simply feeling compassionate.
Speaking of compassionate acts, I’m reading Glennon Melton’s book Carry on, Warrior. (Great writing. Great book. Read it!) When I came to this part in which Glennon writes a letter to her son preparing him for the social garbage he might encounter in 3rd grade, I stopped and smiled. See if it doesn’t have the same effect on you:
“Compassion might lead you to tell a teaser to stop it and then ask the teased kid to play. You might invite a left-out kid to sit next to you at lunch. You might choose a kid for your team first who usually gets chosen last. These things will be hard to do, but you can do hard things.”
Yep. We can do hard things that help each other. Lucky we have this ability because this trip we’re all on is hard. If it was easy (were easy… thank you, Mom) they’d call it a Day at the Beach. Instead they call it LIFE. So keep your hand on the plug and apply compassion as needed.