“Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival.”
~ Dalai Lama XIV ~
I noticed this sign on the edge of the road as I was driving to work. And it did make me slow down. I noticed its counterpart on the other side of the road on my way home that afternoon. Even though there was no sign of the fawn or its mother, I was thankful for this reminder.
I thought of this sign over the weekend when I was at dinner with my family. It was a beautiful summer evening, and we were eating on the sidewalk terrace of a busy restaurant. Suddenly, a woman was sprawled on the sidewalk.
Her toddler had wriggled away from her (they are slippery little things!) and she tripped while running after him. Her hands were scraped and she split her lip, which was bleeding profusely. I ran into the restaurant to get napkins, and someone else got her a glass of water. She was more startled than injured, and after a few minutes those of us who had helped her returned to our dinners.
Helping this woman wasn’t something I thought about. I just did it. Over the past year, my family, like far too many families, has been coping with a sudden loss. We have been overwhelmed by the many kindnesses, large and small, often from total strangers, shared with us during this time. How could I not extend my hand to this woman?
Since Sunday’s horrific news from Orlando, I’ve felt dismay and revulsion at some of the rhetoric being bandied about so carelessly. But I’ve also been heartened by the countless selfless acts of kindness, from women passing out carnations to the families of the victims to the hundreds of people lined up to give blood. This outpouring of sympathy and solidarity from all corners of the world gives me hope. Hope that we can rise above fear and hate. Hope that we can all find the compassion within ourselves to slow down, extend a hand, and treat others with care. Hope that love will prevail.
Thank you to Stacey, Dana, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, Deb, Melanie, and Lisa for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.