When I was pregnant with Keaton, Matthew and I had a discussion one day about the overwhelming task of raising our kid to be a good person, a contributing member of society. As were were talking I said if I can teach him only one thing it would be compassion. I felt like if he had compassion all the other virtues like altruism, kindness, and love would fall into place. Matthew replied he wanted to teach him hard work because he believed if one works hard virtues like respect and honor fall into place. We smiled at each other and said if we succeed at teaching him compassion and hard work we hope to have a balanced individual with the tools to succeed in life.
It has been amazing to watch our almost three year old develop hard work and compassion. The boy doesn’t give up! Once he is ready for a task he is committed. I see his dad’s work ethic in him daily and I am thankful. I am so thankful he realizes hard work is part of being a good family member (we try to focus on behaviors that make us good family members instead of you do this because I said so). There are other times I see his compassionate side and my heart melts. When he pats Matthew’s hand when I said dad doesn’t feel good, or when he shares his snack with his three stuffed dogs. I see glimpses of a tender heart I got from my mom. And in the bubble of our little house I am encouraged and I am grateful….
But then as I walk outside of our little family world I look at Twitter, the news, or even worse Facebook. As I encounter the outside world, I see adults acting in ways we would punish our children for acting. I see a country that is so much about which side you are on that there is no civility, respect or understanding. I see a world filled with name calling and criticism. I see individuals claiming to follow a religion that is all about treating others with respect, but then their next post is anything but love and kindness. I see a world I don’t want my son to see because it is at complete odds at what we are teaching him and what his teachers are teaching him.
When did it become accepted, encouraged, a badge of honor, to name call? When did tearing someone down just because they differ from you become the norm? When did I have to pick a side on every issue and HATE the other? When did civil discourse disappear? Where did compassion and understanding go?
I feel every issue we encounter is made into a two-sided conflict and your choice automatically either makes you a friend or an enemy. We make every issue so black and white and we have forgotten that our world is filled with so many colors. Our hate and preconceived ideas strips the beauty out of our society. I get discouraged and it is hard to hold onto hope and it is difficult to not get hooked into the hate and despair….
But then I go to pick up Keaton from school. I see him playing with others who look nothing like him. I see him say bye to everyone. I see him thank his teachers as he runs up to give me a hug. He tells me about playing with his friends. We head home and my heart is happy and filled with hope. I have hope because if my almost three year old can show compassion and respect, so can we as adults.