#compassion

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When our children were little whenever we could

we’d visit Mr. Rogers in his neighborhood.

 

We’d find a comfortable place and there we’d recline

to watch a man who spoke softly…who was gentle and kind.

 

There on the floor…the children…Mom and Dad

listened as this man spoke of feelings…

the good and the bad.

 

He taught through his actions and every day we’d return

for there was no better way for our children to learn.

 

There on the floor, on the screen….just out of reach

stood Mr. Rogers…no better person to teach…

 

He taught about compassion and acceptance…about how to be good

all from the safety of his neighborhood.

 

Mr. Rogers is gone now and our children are grown.

They have long since left his neighborhood for lives of their own…

 

But after all those hours spent with Mr. Rogers…I know I’m not wrong

when I say wherever they go…they bring his neighborhood along.

 

Since he’s been gone, though, it seems the world has rearranged

and our neighborhoods of compassion and acceptance and love have been changed.

 

I think, in some ways, we’ve forgotten his message.

We have forgotten how to be good…

Which makes me long for those moments we learned about love

 

on the streets of his neighborhood.


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HOMELESSNESS

They found him sleeping in the park…

the children immediately made a fuss

“He has no tag, he must be a stray,” they said…

“Can we take him home with us?”

 

“He’s so skinny.” they implored. 

“No telling the last time he was fed.”

Dad cautioned,“ But he’s so dirty and smelly.” 

“He just needs a bath!” they said.

 

“We’ll take good care of him.” the children begged.

“No longer will he roam."

“After all,” they looked at him with eyes wide open,

“every dog deserves a home.”

 

Dad looked at his children…looked at the dog

then smiled graciously…

The children had their dog…

and the dog…a family.

 

This seems like a happy ending…

but only partially so….

for in that same park slept a homeless man

he, too, with no place to go.

 

He, too, was dirty and smelly

with only the park bench for his bed

He, too, was very skinny…

Who knows the last time he was fed?

 

Both man and dog were in the park.

Both could use a helping hand.

But the family opted to help the dog.

and ignore the homeless man.

 

We don’t know how the man came to be there

and the dog will never tell.

And, yes, helping the dog is wonderful…

but shouldn’t we help the man as well?

 

What kind of world are we living in

when we will help stray dogs whenever we can…

but we will step over, walk right by, walk around…

and ignore the homeless man?

 

There are many homeless people in our country…

too many to catalogue….

I wonder…what would it take show them the same compassion…

the same love and caring…

 

we show our homeless dogs?


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WE'LL NEVER KNOW

It’s amazing when you think about it…as we travel to and fro

The amount of uncertainty in the world we live in…

all the things we’ll never know.

 

But in an uncertain world there are certain habits we can shape…

certain ways that we can be

that help prepare us for the world’s uncertainties 

while at the same time set us free. 

 

We can be compassionate for we never know what people are going through…

as we meet them along the way.

We can be kind for we’ll never know when an act of kindness will make another person’s day.

 

We can be accepting of other people whom we don’t understand or may misconstrue..

for in an uncertain world there is certainly room for differing points of view.

 

We can be giving for we’ll never know what our giving might prevent

how far our gift will travel…how much our giving might have meant.

 

We can be thoughtful for we’ll never know how long our words will linger inside another person’s head

long after the moment’s over 

long after we’ve forgotten what we’ve said.

 

We can be happy for the things we have as we anticipate all our happiness ahead…

for at the end of the day we’ll never know how much our happiness has spread.

 

I imagine there are no easy answers to the uncertainties as life moves on and on

So we try to do the best in every moment…before that moment’s gone.

 

But I’m certain if we think of others as we travel to and fro

We’ll be ready for life uncertainties… 

 

and all those things we’ll never know. 



ENCOURAGE THE COURAGE

He was born with eyes of blue and you can imagine his surprise

When he was told he had to change their color…or he’d be ostracized.

 

But I can’t change the color of my eyes!” he said…they’ve been with me since I was born.

“You can if you pray hard enough!” they told him…and he began to mourn.

 

“He loved different flavors of ice cream mixed together.”

Only to be told he must keep them separated…

“But they taste so much better when they’re all blended” he argued…

and immediately…he was berated.

 

“Different flavors are not meant to be mixed together.” they said.

and because they had no reason why…

The little boy put his face in his hands…and he began to cry.

 

He loved listening to his music…he’d dance…he’d sing…he’d soar

Until they told him he had to turn it off…he couldn’t listen to his music anymore.

 

They told him the kind of music he must listen to…

The melodies he must keep…

The little boy listened to their musical alternative…then he began to weep.

 

He fell in love with a person who also had blue eyes…and you can imagine their dread

and the hurt inside their hearts…when they were told they could never wed?

 

“But we love each other!” they implored.  “We want to be married…to say ‘I do’

"Oh that’s impossible.” They were told. 

“You cannot love another person with the same blue eyes as you.”

 

But they looked into each other’s eyes…they smiled…and changed their fate that day.

when they decided not to listen to those voices…and were married anyway…

 

And their children grew up in a house filled with encouragement…

filled with laughter …and love…but not fear!

And they listened to whatever music they liked…

A cornucopia for the ears.

 

And their children had the most beautiful eyes of blue…

which they were proud of but never flaunted…

They loved whom they loved with all of their heart…

and ate ice cream any way that they wanted…

 

And they will instill in their children these same values 

which they know will help them go far…

To be happy, content and possessed with the confidence…

and the courage to be who they are…

 

For the secret to happiness is freedom…

and if we want to live in a land…truly free

Then we must encourage the courage in our children…

 

to be…who they were meant to be.


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UNLIKELY PLACES

When you begin to think there’s no hope for humanity…

when sadness is filling peoples faces…

Don’t fret: sometimes compassion, kindness and love…

can be found in the most unlikely of places.

 

An airport is teeming with people of every shape and size…

But filled with love, compassion and kindness??? 

If you look you might be pleasantly surprised.

 

You see couples and friends…and families…as aircrafts each minute are awaited

but generally most of the people in an airport are totally unrelated.

 

Sure the couples, friends and families take center stage and certainly can’t be missed

as they smile at one another, as they hold hands, hug and kiss…

 

They stand in excited anticipation…as their love and affection rise…

and you can see how much they must have missed each other…

for it is written in their eyes..

 

But there is also a wonder to behold…as tickets are purchased…and bags are checked…

That can be found all over the airport…from people you might not expect….

 

Meander through its terminal and as you move aimlessly about

you notice people smiling at one another…and strangers helping other strangers out.

 

One lady struggles with her suitcases…and as they twist and turn and drag

A man steps out of the line he’s been waiting in…to assist her with her bags.

 

He returns to the end of the line…

and you hear not one moan…not one protest…not one grunt

As all the people step aside…and move him to the front

 

A family traveling with three children…each one under the age of 5

The parents sing to them, give them food and toys…just trying to survive…

 

When an older couple sits down next to them…for a moment the parents feel blessed

as this couple plays happily with their children…allowing the parents a moment to rest.

 

A woman at the restaurant cash register…can’t find her money and before they take her food away… 

Another woman pays her bill…saying “Enjoy your food…and have a nice day!”

 

What is this phenomenon?…why it’s a love and a kindness so profound

that wherever you look in a airport…you’ll discover they’re around.

 

I’m not sure why this happens but if I may venture a quick guess

perhaps watching so much happiness in others…rubs off onto the rest.

 

An airport reminds us there is a universal language…

a language with the ability to enthrall

That language…why it’s love, actually,….and it’s a language understood by all.

 

It doesn’t matter ones color, ones religion, ones sex…

or wether or not they know each other’s names..

love…when spoken with ones actions…

treats everyone…the same

 

There is a another phenomenon about love and kindness…

once you notice that it’s there…

you begin to discover it more often…

you begin to see it…everywhere.

   

And you smile knowing there is hope for humanity…

When you see happiness filling peoples faces…

when you realize compassion, kindness and love…

 

can be found in the most unlikely of places.


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COMPASSION

She was trying to teach about compassion, about charity as a way of living.

But when times are tough for everyone how can anyone talk of giving?

 

“We could begin with the homeless man on the corner,” she said.  “I know his name is Jack.”

“He begs for food, sleeps in a box and has no shirt upon his back.”

 

“You pass him every Sunday before you sit upon your pew.”

“Giving must begin with us…is there something we can do?”

 

The heads of his congregation sagged and their eyes fell to the floor

“But we have barely enough to make ends meet,” one woman said.

“We can’t give anymore.”

 

Her face was cloaked in sadness until one young boy walked up the aisle.

He was holding something in his hands…and on his face he wore a smile.

 

“I have lots of shirts at home”, he said…and she thought his voice divine.

“More shirts than I could ever wear.…”Would Jack like one of mine?”

 

And she knew she needn’t preach no more.

For the young boy did all he could

to teach about compassion and giving…

 

and the congregation understood.

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Humanity

 

If you want others to be happy- practice compassion

If YOU want to be happy- practice compassion.

The Dalai Lama

 

 

What is it that makes us human?

I imagine most people would agree…

an essential human attribute…

is our humanity.

 

Compassion, generosity, benevolence…

acting honorably…

kindness, a tender heart…and love…

these are the definitions of humanity.

 

It is precisely our kindness and generosity

that allows humanity to thrive…

Without them…without love…without compassion…

humanity cannot survive.

 

Until we embody this definition

humans we will not be.

For humans cannot be humans...

 

without humanity.


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Is This What She Meant?

Yesterday for perverse reasons...like prejudice, fear and hate,

we began to turn our backs 

on the very people who made this country great.

 

We began to strip away the principles our founding fathers had endowed.

As a citizen of the United States...

this does not make me proud.

 

It seems to me this country that I love...

is falling victim to bigotry and hate

How could we have forgotten what it is that makes us great?

 

As our principal symbol of freedom,

Liberty’s true complement...

Do you think she’s still standing proud today?

 

Do you think this is what she meant?


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