What is compassion? Simply it is caring for and feeling the need to give relief to others. According dictionary.com:
compassion – a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
I learned from grandmother that even when you have very little as the world sees it, you can still be compassionate and giving to the people around you. Grandma had really bad arthritis. I’m talking knots on her and hands and feet that made walking and grasping things a challenge. When she would stand up from her chair, her knees would creak like an old wooden rocker because there was no cartilage. She never complained and always had a soft spot in her heart for any of the neighbors or family in need. Her own pain and suffering ignored or at least tolerated when anyone was at the house. If someone needed food, she cooked or got something from the “root cellar” where she kept things that she had canned. If someone need clothes, she sewed and mended. If they just needed to talk, she listened. Never did I hear, “I don’t feel well today, I’m hurting, I don’t have much or you think you have it bad, look at me.” Always Grandma had time to listen, time to cook, time to sew and always with the other person square in the center of her attention.
I think that my grandmother’s compassion and outlook on life made her truly rich. People in the valley where she lived would do anything for her and my grandfather. She never lacked company, especially after my grandfather passed away. Her house was always open and usually full with visitors. I believe that one of the great challenges facing our society is being a good example to our children. Not just in manners and basic normal behavior, but in compassion and caring. I strongly feel that these things can be taught by example. Our example at home. The teachers and educators example in the classroom. Our civil servants example in our day-to-day interactions with the public. Our challenge as a society, is to teach compassion by showing the kind of compassion that I learned from my grandmother. Go and show compassion! Be the example!