Modeling compassion

Opportunities to point out the importance of tolerance, the charity of patience and understanding, and the grace of honoring differences and diversity among all the world’s people must be thoughtfully crafted.

by Kris Lecakes Haley — 

Be they furry, finned or feathered, our companion animals provide us infinite opportunities to explore empathy and express compassion. Imagine yourself relaxing alongside your pet, stroking his or her fur as you utter a contented sigh. As your child plays happily nearby, feelings of gratitude and peace flood over you. All is well in your world.

In the very next moment, you notice unexpected movement on the floor. You shudder as you realize it is a spider, and it is headed straight for your child. Within seconds, you are on your feet, already clenching a newspaper.

In the blink of an eye, you have tossed peace to the wind and, eyes ablaze, summarily sent the creepy little crawler to an unexpectedly swift meeting with his maker. You are victorious; your success evidenced by newly embedded bug body parts in your carpet.

But what have you just taught your child?

Those dedicated to raising compassionate children actively seek and enthusiastically seize teachable moments that gently nudge their charges toward conscionable choices. Opportunities to point out the importance of tolerance, the charity of patience and understanding, and the grace of honoring differences and diversity among all the world’s people must be thoughtfully crafted.

Why not extend this philosophy to all living beings, particularly toward those who might actually provide the most teachable moments? Certainly intuition will, at times, guide us to protect ourselves and those who depend upon us. But consider the power of placing a glass over that much maligned spider and gently sliding a piece of paper beneath it so that you can provide it safe return to the outdoors. More importantly, consider the unforgettable impact this will have on your child.

Consider how beautifully you can illustrate tolerance in that profoundly teachable ensuing conversation. And as for the spider … an outcome infinitely more desirable than eternal repose via yesterday’s rolled up newspaper. What would happen to our world if we allowed our compassion toward each other to evaporate so quickly?

Find unexpected ways through which to express your compassion. You will find that the spider dons many disguises. Accept this invitation to model compassion … to “be” compassion. Gandhi challenged us to be the change we wish to see in the world. Good advice, because there is always a newspaper sledgehammer, somewhere in the universe, bigger than we are.

 

Kris Lecakes-Haley is an internationally certified Bach Foundation registered practitioner who works exclusively with animals and is a co-founder of One Voice … Ministry In Motion. kris@animalsynergy.com, www.animalsynergy.com or 480-460-1801.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 6, December 2006/January 2007.

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