Courage and Compassion in Action (Part 1)


Courage and Compassion

Sometimes it takes courage to act in a compassionate manner.  Even actions of children can provide adults with examples of how to act courageously.  It doesn’t require a life or death situation.  But it does require courage to overcome fear and act for the benefit of others without regard to the consequences to oneself.

Compassion in Action

My daughter is one of the most empathetic people I have ever known. She can tell when others are feeling down before they even notice themselves.  At the start of first grade she was coming home each day having not taken a nibble out of her lunch. When queried about it, she indicated that there wasn’t enough time. So, my wife and I contacted her teacher and asked why she didn’t give her enough time to eat.  When she said she had plenty of time, we asked her to check on her the next day at lunch.  She told us the story of why she wasn’t eating, and my heart fell out.

It turns out there was a boy in her class whose family was lucky enough that his mother didn’t have to work outside of the home. This young boy had spent almost every waking moment of his life interacting with his mother. She was the first face he saw in the morning, the face he saw all day long, and the last face he saw before he fell asleep each night. When he got to school and there were kids to interact with and a teacher to fulfill the adult role in his life he was fine.

Overcoming Fear to Help Others

But at lunch time the kids went to the lunch room, sat down, and began to eat. The teacher instructed them to be quiet, stay in their places and eat their lunches.  All his support vanished, and his separation anxiety overwhelmed him causing him to cry.  So, my daughter would go sit with him and talk to him during the entire lunch period, so he wouldn’t cry.  In doing so, she would neglect her own lunch.  She overcame her fear of disobeying the teacher’s instructions to stay in her place, be quiet, and eat her lunch.  She acted to benefit her friend at the expense of eating her own lunch.

It was all I could do to stay composed when she came home from school that day. I let her know how proud I was of her helping a classmate in need.  And I let her know she could still eat her own lunch while doing so.  Sometimes it’s amazing what a child can teach you if you just pay attention.

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