Several years ago, I watched as ABC’s Nightline featured a story about Mitch Albom and his book, Tuesdays with Morrie. Mitch Albom, an acclaimed writer for the NY Times and a former student of Morrie Schwartz, learned that his former sociology professor was dying from a type of sclerosis called, ALS. It appears ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) slowly robs the body's motor functions until the entire body finally shuts down. When the series began, Morrie could move his upper body; by the time the series ended, he could barely move his lips to speak.
The book chronicles the final two years of his life and the wisdom he imparts to his former student. The series, like the book, is extremely emotional; and, throughout the series Morrie explains his own emotional turmoil concerning his imminent death.
Here's the thing I found compelling. During one of the final segments of the broadcast series, Mitch Albom asks Morrie, “What is the one thing you feel people should know?” He thought for a second and said, “Be compassionate.” As I sat listening to the broadcast, I thought about the brilliance in the statement! Have more compassion for each other. It is a simple statement; yet, oftentimes we find it difficult to do.
Some of us confuse compassion with love. Compassion is not like love. Love is intrinsic unto itself; you either have it or you don't. Compassion however, can be acquired. It is complete empathy. The understanding that you may not like the person, or their viewpoint, or their religion, or their accent, or their country, or their ...whatever; but, somehow you can offer them a glass of water when they are thirsty, food when they are hungry, and help when they cannot help themselves. Compassion compels us to make an empathetic connection between our worse enemy and ourselves.
Morrie’s statement was one of the last things he was able to say before his death.
Compassion, a word found 41 times in our Bible from Exodus to Jude, offers a slight glimpse into the very Spirit of God; the very Heart of Jesus Christ. Shouldn't we at least try to offer as much of it as possible? L.
Study Reference: 1 Peter 3:8-9, Psalm 78:38-39
From: "Compassion." In The Master's Hands: 365 Daily Devotions For Everyday Living.
Copyright © 2014 by Lavona E. Campbell
photo: Laurent Baheux