Thursday, January 28, 2010

Venting Compassion

I finally talked with Teagan about the earthquake. I hadn't known how to approach it with her. We've kept the kids sheltered from the news and such. But they are doing a mission thing for UMCOR health kits through Sunday School so I knew there was a chance she was going to hear about it somewhere. We sat down and talked about what "earthquake" means. And that the one in Haiti was a big one. And that the people of Haiti were already really, really poor and that the earthquake broke most of the homes and buildings. I did show her some pictures of rubble and broken houses- carefully screening and selecting which images she saw. We looked at a map to see where Haiti is located compared to Indiana, Ohio (where Grandma lives), and Florida (where Mimi and PopPop used to live and where she has friends go on vacation).
She asked if we could go to Haiti so we could help them. I told her that we can't go right now- but that maybe we can go when she is bigger. She smiled and hugged me.
She's not yet 5 and she's been venting compassion since she was 2 or 3 and started picking out toys to donate to Goodwill and started helping me pick out food to donate to the food pantry.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta wrote a blog entry last week about "venting compassion." Please take a moment to go and read it. And then reflect- do you vent compassion when faced with a crisis impacting others?
I saw a piece on today about the distribution of aid in Haiti. I can't begin to know what the problems are or how to fix them. But my heart breaks when I see these people fighting to get to a relief truck full of bags of rice and they are being forced back, sprayed with pepper spray, in an effort to keep the peace. It's been reported that many in Haiti are only getting to eat about once every three days. And that isn't a meal once every three days. That's some rice. Maybe some beans. A snack- 1 time every 3 days. Parents have to watch their children starving, dying from dehydration.
I've read stories of awful medical situations... stories that are heartbreaking and hard to read. But also stories that bring hope and are uplifting.
I don't have answers and won't pretend to know how to fix or help the people in Haiti or the helpers in Haiti. The only thing I can do is pick up items for health kits when I go to the store... and pray. I continue to make daily visits to the list of blogs in my sidebar and my goal is to leave a comment on each one each day to let them know that I am praying for them, that there is support and concern and hope and love from far away. It isn't much- but it is my own way of venting compassion. The news about Haiti is already fading. The reporters are leaving the ground, heading home. The stories aren't getting the same attention and you have to search a bit to stay informed. But the people of Haiti are still in crisis. It hasn't gone away, the crisis hasn't been stopped, the needs haven't been met.
I hope that we can all make a commitment to keeping Haiti- more importantly, the people of Haiti- in out hearts and minds. That we don't forget them or their situation. That while we can't physically fix the problem, we can be mindful of what is going on in our world.
And that there are countless ways to to vent compassion now, in the future, for Haiti, for others.


Karen M. Peterson said...

I think it's great that you talked to Teagan about what's happening. She sounds like a very special girl with a warm and compassionate heart.

I like this whole notion of venting compassion, but I can't help but wonder. If we, as a society, were this compassionate always, would there be such a need in the wake of natural disasters?

Shell said...

Your daughter has an amazing heart.

Your post really made me think.

Mellodee said...

All parents want to protect their kids from the harsh and ugly events that we see and hear about so often. I understand that; but I also understand that keeping them completely insulated from the bad things, is doing them a huge disservice. Our compassion, responsibility, consequences, generousity, tolerance, and all other such attributes are initially learned in the home. This is where parents must do their best to prepare their kids for the world around them. Helping them understand why things happen and how to properly react to them is a major deal. Without that prep, kids can and will be overwhelmed by the bad things. You can't protect your children from life. Its the learning how to cope that's important. So congratulations on addressing the earthquake and its aftermath with your daughter. She is definitely getting the right message from you!

Teacher Tom said...

My moment like this with my preschooler was 9/11. A few years later we actually visited the site. It was a powerful experience.

Nancy C said...

I talked to my oldest about buying a Christmas gift for a boy in foster care. He's only three, so I said, "His mother was too sick to buy him a gift, so we're doing it for her this year."

I could tell he was really troubled by the idea, which tells me that the seeds of compassion are just starting to bud.

I pray I will support him as he learns about this world, and all of its joys and struggles.