If you need to be reminded of the beauty of humanity, you only need to look at acts of compassion.
Recently I was eating lunch at a restaurant that plays sports on its TVs. I normally pay little attention to television as I like to read a book during lunch. However, on this particular day, I looked up to see a Little League game in play.
I saw a young player come off his base and walk over to the pitcher, who looked upset. I thought it was odd, so I kept watching as the station reran the events leading up to the moment.
I watched in horror as the pitcher threw a ball that accidentally hit the batter in the head. The batter fell to the ground, holding his head and writhing in pain.
After a while the batter composed himself, stood up and walked to his base.
A moment later, in an amazing show of compassion, the batter went over to the pitcher, said something to him and gave him a hug.
The batter, a boy named Isaiah, later told a reporter, “I wanted to make sure he was all right, and I wanted to make sure he knew that I was all right.”
I had tears in my eyes as I watched, in awe of this young man’s sympathy and feelings of concern for the pitcher. That same hug drew a standing ovation from the stadium crowd and brought tears to the eyes of many who watched it play out.
The video of the incident has been viewed over 2.9 million times. You don’t need to love baseball to love that moment.
Not all acts of compassion are quite so public, but they can be just as beautiful.
Last week I was watching our participants leave the building as our Adult Day Program ended. Their family caregivers stood ready to pick them up.
One of our participants was greeted by a younger man for pickup, not by her husband. As we were waiting, I explained to the man that the participant and I have known each other for many years.
Kayla, our Adult Day Program leader, introduced the younger man to me as the participant’s pastor.
I later learned that our staff had been having some long talks with the participant’s husband about his caregiver burden and had finally convinced him to reach out to his church community for help.
It was a big deal for him to ask for help, and then the pastor himself stepped up.
I had tears in my eyes as I walked back to my office. What a beautiful thing for that pastor to do. He himself rose to the calling when hearing about his congregant’s distress.
Later that day, in relating the story to another staff member, Dana said, “What the caregivers may not realize is that it is a privilege to be asked to be a helper, not a burden. It is as important for the helper as it is for the caregiver.”
In modern-day life I think we often forget about compassion. It’s easy to become absorbed in the challenges of our own lives and fail to see the suffering of others. It’s even harder to do something about it.
In these two instances, both the batter and the preacher recognized the suffering of another and took action to help.
If you would like to practice compassion, start by trying to understand how another person feels.
And next, if you can, do something to alleviate that person’s suffering, such as showing forgiveness or kindness, offering hope or validating someone’s feelings.
Another way we can practice compassion is to refrain from judgment and criticizing.
Compassion is a gift for both parties. In baseball we’d call that a tie, but I’d call it a grand slam.