Compassion: An argument for Compassion (part 1)


Adoption Attorney Michele Jackson visiting orphans in Ukraine

It is a generally accepted belief that if everyone in the world had more compassion and love, that the world would be a much better place. Another widely held belief is that our children are our future. Which leads me to this question. If we are all in agreement of these two statements, then why aren’t we more compassionate, especially with children? If our children will be running the world when they are adults, why are we not caring for those without homes and families? Why aren’t we teaching these children, by example, the meaning of compassion?

During one of my daily commutes to work I listened to a story on NPR reporting on a recent study performed by Mary Helen Immordino-Yang at the National Academy of Sciences. The study used an MRI to study the brains of individuals’ and their responses to stories that were designed to provoke various emotions. The group was presented with stories of individuals experiencing, both physical and emotional pain. In a nut shell, the results showed that an individual’s brain took longer to show compassion to emotional pain than it took showing compassion to physical pain. The researcher went further to state that compassion is not a born trait but rather a learned behavior. A learned behavior. We have to teach compassion to our children and they learn primarily by example.

While everyone around us is complaining about the state of the economy, there are still others in the world who have far less than we do. The orphan population in the world increases every year. Children are left homeless without families and are raised in an institutional setting.

While I grant not all orphanages have dire living conditions, many do. The fact remains that even if the orphanage is an optimum care facility, the children there are being raised in an institutional setting rather than in a loving and compassionate family unit. A home where they can learn compassion.

Why aren’t we being more proactive to provide these children with loving homes? Why is it so easy to turn our heads and assume someone else will take on this responsibility? Where is our compassion?

Next week we will present part two of this article on Compasion

Sonja Brown works as the International Program Director for MLJ Adoptionsā€™ programs in Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Samoa. Sonja is also proud to work directly with our Individualized Country Program families who are adopting from countries where no adoption service providers currently operate.