First of all, I love saying "part deux." Second of all....
Definition: Putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes; feeling what God feels towards their plight
QUOTE: How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these. George Washington Carver
When our oldest daughter, Bethany, was little, we lived overseas. Daily, she mingled with refugees from Eastern Europe and heard their heart-breaking stories. Periodically, she would travel with us in Romania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and East Germany, and would see, firsthand, the poverty of the people there.
As a result, we had a hard time keeping any of the toys sent by grandma back in states, because she wanted Daddy to give them away on his trips. She baked cookies to give to “the children who don’t have any.” She carefully clutched bananas to carry on a train trip to Budapest, to hand to missionary children there, where bananas were not to be had.
To this day, her heart is turned towards the poor and suffering. She’s traveled several times into remote regions of Mexico on mercy trips. Her college degree is geared towards one day helping such people again.
When we stay in our enclaves of comfortable environments with people of similar economic, intellectual and/or physical means, we do our children a disservice. Like all of us, our children’s hearts will be moved to compassion more when the nameless faceless people on the nightly news become real people known to them.
Compassion, of course, applies to more than the needy. It starts by understanding the feelings and hurts of a brother, the struggle to conquer math skills in a sister (when such things come more easily to you) or thinking about the hurt and loneliness of an out-of-town grandma who just had an operation. It grows to imagining ourselves in the place of the family who just lost a Dad to cancer and encompasses the lost and deceived people around us who do not have the sure hope we have as Christians.
PICTURE BOOKS: (FAR from an all encompassing list!)
Andy and the Lion by James Daughtery Andy takes a thorn out of a lion’s paw and his compassion is later rewarded.
Crow Boy by Taro Yashima Set in a small, rural Japanese community, Chibi is an outcast at school because he is different from the other children. Eventually, his uniqueness is discovered and appreciated. Caldecott Award
Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss Horton the elephant discovers a whole new world on a speck of dust and ,despite ridicule from other animals, saves his microscopic friends and works to gain them respect, because , in the familiar refrain of the tale. “A persons a person, no matter how small.”
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister A beautiful fish won't give away any of his sparkling scales because they make him more beautiful than any other fish. He's too arrogant to play with the ordinary fish and when he refuses to share they decide they want nothing to do with him. All alone, he is faced with a choice about riches and friendship.
Ruff by Jane Hissey. 1994 Random House . Ruff, a stuffed dog, is abandoned but his new friends welcome him into their circle, and give him a birthday party and his name.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White– A spider, Charlotte, devotedly works to saves her pig friend, Wilbur, from certain death.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott Though the story takes place during wartime, and money is tight, Marmee exhibits an unselfish compassion towards the poor around her, and her daughters learn this trait from her example. One chapter tells the touching story of the girls packing up their special Christmas breakfast, contenting themselves with bread and milk, and bringing it to a poor immigrant family living in great need. The satisfaction this act of compassion brings to the girls is clear.
Note: Other character qualities: The girls recognize their weaknesses and work to improve, which is inspiring in itself. Each has her own particular struggles against, for example, vanity, contentment, and pride. Family love helps each through troubles and tragedy. Duty to their family and to society must sometimes take precedence over personal desires.