Sunday, December 21, 2008

Everyone needs compassion

An Oregon high school students is wondering, "Where is the love?" Senior Kelsey Hertell wanted to share kindness with the community around her. Instead, she's found that too many in the world are too leary of a kind deed.
Each morning before dropping toddlerTate off at daycare, we have a short conversation. "Tate," I begin, "remember this: be kind, compassionate, and polite." She usually follows along. The author Frederick Buechner says, "Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.” Which is what I hope we accomplish with this food drive I've written about. Joy for my students. Joy for my community. Joy for the people receiving the food.
The Dalai Lama says about happiness, "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
Again, this is another aspect of what I hope our food drive has accomplished. I don't know that I have been all that happy at my school. In part, I wonder if it has something to do with the lack of compassion throughout the building. Students lack compassion for one another, evidenced by the regular put-downs, arguments, and fights. Students lack compassion for the teachers, evidenced by the regular disrespect. In turn, the teachers lack compassion for the students, evidenced by the quick judgements and half-hearted efforts. This lack of compassion has grown into a circular event in which individuals cannot bring themselves to end the cycle.
I hope we've taken a step towards shared compassion. I hope the world is not so cynical that we can't be kind to one another.


At 11:34 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your post here and the linked article. The world isn't that cynical, but the media might be, and people listen to the media more often than each other (it seems). But it won't stop me from being nice, and I'm glad it's not stopping you either. Thanks for posting!

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At 7:01 AM , Blogger Priest said...

A logical follow on to a food drive effort might be to visit a local soup kitchen or shelter for the homeless. The best case scenario would be one in which your students, at least some of them, volunteered to do service work at such a facility.

I do not find your criticism of student behavior, e.g., put downs, to be credible. From my observations, and cumulative life experience, I regard such things as a temporary state of being.

A disconnect occurs when the student behaviors you noted are carried over into adult life and actually undergo refinement from continued use. The put downs become more subtle and biting, the violence morphs from physical to psychological, etc.

For the teachers there is no excuse. Lacking some semblance of real compassion a teacher is not a teacher; they are a subject matter specific resource and nothing more. There is a considerable difference.


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