Give the gift of compassion for Haiti

Published 7:13 pm Friday, January 22, 2010

Compassion. Webster’s defines it as “the sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.”

More simply put: it’s the ability to empathize, to put ourselves in another man’s shoes and, if not walk a mile, then to certainly feel his plight; and then, to be moved to do something about it.

This week, as images of the devastating earthquake in Haiti cross our televisions and computer screens, where is our compassion?

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This is a tragedy on a biblical scale: 100,000 people, maybe as many as 500,000, dead. Tens of thousands of people trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings, crying out for help while families and rescuers alike used bare hands to try to dig them to safety. Imagine the horror of those who died; and worse yet, those who could not save the ones they loved.

Separated by an ocean and the buffers of our television screens, we are protected from the stench of death. We do not feel the fear that grips the people of Haiti now, nor will we know the heartbreaking pain they will suffer in the months and years to come as they seek to rebuild not only their homes but their lives.

Today, they know only shock; and fear; and pain.

We, however, can embrace compassion – in our hearts, in our minds and in our souls. And we can use that compassion to guide us to action.

We can pray – for God’s mercy, for His compassion, for strength for the aid workers and success for the rescue efforts; we can pray for the families who survived and those who did not; and we can pray for hope.

Moreover, we can give through dozens of charities and aid organizations, from the American Red Cross to Catholic Relief Services to the local Baptist mission boards. Whether you can give $1 or $100 or $1,000, or simply five minutes in prayer, you can give something to help the people of Haiti.

It’s the gift of compassion.