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Archive for August 13th, 2013

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Duperier Bridge Sunset

Duperier Bridge Sunset

To be rich in admiration and free from envy, to rejoice greatly in the good of others, to love with such generosity of heart that your love is still a dear possession in absence or unkindness – these are the gifts which money cannot buy.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
Essayist, Poet, Novelist

The 7th Habit of Love in Ed Bacon’s 8 Habits of Love is Compassion. Compassion is not just about kindness, or generosity, or even pity. Compassion is deeper, stronger. Compassion leads us to empathy, then to action.

The Habit of Compassion is, at its core, about acting on the knowledge that everyone is a God carrier…It distinguishes between charitable empathy in which we seek to wipe out others’ pain or discomfort,and incites us to action in which we honor their future by helping them, help and honor themselves. The Habit of Compassion reminds us that none of us is as evil as our worst act; no evil deed or deeds can erase the goodness and love at the core.

The belief in the God carrier, that everyone is essentially good leads to tolerance and love. We can spread this love through our actions, our words, and our being. I had the opportunity to show compassion in April of this year when I helped a homeless woman. You can read the story here. I never found out what happened to her, but I must believe that my small act of compassion encouraged her. In addition to practicing kindness, we must believe that kindness changes people.

Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem Kindness moves me. “Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.”

Before you can be compassionate, you must know the compassion of others. I have felt the compassion of others at my worst moments. One I remember was a few years ago when I had what I later figured out was a panic attack in the lounge at school. I had never had one before and haven’t since. I don’t remember what brought it on except I was feeling nauseated and fearful. A colleague looked at me and said,”Are you OK?” And I lost it. I started crying uncontrollably. I ended up on the sofa with a wet cloth on my head. One teacher stayed with me and comforted me until I felt better. This expression of compassion made me feel like I was not alone and not a complete fool. Her presence was enough.

Ed Bacon speaks a lot about having compassion for those who have done some wrong or evil. When the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook happened last year, one of my students was quick to remind us all that the killer was a person, too, and he died. I was moved by her compassion for him. Often the evil someone does comes from a place of deep anger or emotional distress. And who are we to judge? Compassion does not excuse the evil or make it less horrible. However, when we react to aggression with aggression, what we get is more aggression. The vicious cycle. Compassion frees us of this cycle and helps us to move forward in love.

In what ways can you encourage compassion in your classroom this year? Bullying is an issue that has come to the forefront in education. I plan to read aloud two books that show kindness over bullying, Wonder by R.J. Palacio and Kate Messner’s Sea Monster and the Bossy Fish. If I teach compassion, show compassion, and live compassion, my students will know love and practice the habits of love, too.

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