Empathy and Compassion

Mother Teresa said:
Smile at each other, smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at your children, smile at each other – it doesn’t matter who it is – and that will help you to grow up in greater love for each other.

It seems that we as a people, have lost empathy and compassion for one another. We have become detached, uncaring and often apathetic. When I grew up, when we asked how someone was doing, we stuck around for the answer. If it was great news, we rejoiced with that person. If the news were more dire, we absorbed that person’s pain and offered a shoulder, a loving comment, some reassurance, a casserole or earnest prayers. In short, we cared.

Lately, I’ve noticed when observing others in conversation or in the midst of my own, that people are distant, distracted, or basically uncaring. How sad this is and how sad we have become if we would rather tweet, email,  facebook or instant message someone in lieu of speaking in person or on the phone. Somehow, when a voice or a face are not connected to the person–we are not connected and that person is placed neatly on a shelf, next to last year’s bestseller.

When we say, ‘we will pray for you’ how often do we really mean it? Do we spend time speaking with our Lord and asking for the intentions of that person? Have we sent a note, made a phone call, or stopped by to see how we could help? Or, are we more concerned with our own agendas, our own lives and struggles that we cannot see the suffering in front of us—especially when they are in our own families?

For me, one of my goals this year is to concentrate on the person speaking to me as if that person is the most important person in the world. For regardless of the callousness of this world, I do not want to become callous. I want to ooze Christ’s love and let people know that I truly do care-because, I really do.

If we lost compassion for the hurting, for the sick, the dying, the suffering and lonely–we have lost the message of Christ, who said

”  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
    “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
    “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
   “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”  (Matthew 25:41-46)

Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.
Kahlil Gibran

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