"Compassion empowers you with heart-felt concern for the suffering or misfortunes of others." — Jonas Cain
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The children must have misunderstood. After all, even basic fractions can be a challenging concept to grasp for six-year olds. And especially so for six-year-old refugees from other countries who had only just recently arrived in Toronto.
The teacher thought she made the concept clear, though. After explaining what a “quarter” means and what a “half” means, she asked the students to write down whether they would prefer a quarter or a half of a chocolate bar.
This was a smart strategy. Effective teachers understand that to make learning “sticky,” they have to make it relevant for students—and most children certainly love candy!
But as she walked around the room, she noticed several students wrote they would prefer a quarter of a chocolate bar. They didn’t seem to understand that a half was bigger than a quarter.
To coach them along, she asked the students why they would prefer a quarter of the chocolate bar rather than half, and one little girl replied: “So more people could have a piece of chocolate.”
This touching story demonstrates how a chocolate bar can be seen as a delicious snack or an opportunity to share kindness, depending on our perspective.
These refugee children demonstrate that when we experience challenges, we become empowered with perspective and understanding, encouraging us to respond to the needs of others with compassion by doing something about it.
Using this story as a mirror, I become immediately ashamed of all the times I’ve failed to respond to the needs of others. It’s not that I fail to acknowledge suffering in our world—no, I can point to countless times I’ve felt sympathy and even empathy for others.
But compassion is different.
Compassion has feet.
Compassion has hands.
Compassion has words.
Compassion has time.
Compassion makes sacrifices.
Compassion sees a need and is moved by the heart to fulfill the need.
When I think of all the kindnesses I’ve knowingly failed to do, I feel a punch to the soul; yet, when I recall the kindness I have done, my heart becomes light, providing encouragement to be more heart-directed moving forward.
And perhaps what’s most encouraging is that compassion doesn’t have to always be a grand gesture. It can be as simple as offering a smile or a friendly hello—or taking only a quarter of a chocolate bar instead of half, so more people can enjoy it.
I wonder what would happen to this world if we practiced being more like those children in our everyday lives.
Hashtag Positivity can help you and the people you lead achieve growth by design through community engagement keynotes and assemblies, leadership development workshops, and change management coaching. Connect with Jonas today to discuss your challenges, goals, and obstacles.
Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach, working to engage, empower, and encourage leaders and the people they serve to experience joy.