After the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan, a group of 400 Japanese pensioners volunteered to face the dangers of radiation instead of the young. Calling themselves the Skilled Veterans Corps, this group of professionals volunteered to take on the danger that working in the affected areas could bring.
It is often said the longest distance in the world is from the head to the heart. This is why the same intellectual stimulus of witnessing suffering in the world can elicit varied responses from different people. These can range from complete aversion (antipathy) to neglect (apathy), pity (sympathy), or understanding the other’s feelings (empathy). But the most important thing the world needs today is compassion, which the Bible would characterize as theopathy, ‘Theos’ meaning God. Why it could be characterized as such is because the Bible introduces us to God whose very essence is love. At the very core of God’s being, we discover a burning compassionate love that gives, gives and gives.
Compassion is a posture or lifestyle that goes beyond merely feeling bad. To have compassion means to empathize with someone who is suffering and to feel compelled to reduce their suffering. Frederick Buechner says, “Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.” The world needs more of this compassion now more than ever. Being in a rat-race defined by selfish goals may distract us from realising that our true purpose is found in serving others. Let’s open up our eyes, ears, hands and most importantly, our hearts, to those suffering around us. Let’s strive to be channels of God’s compassion.