Ever since we got the go-ahead to wear masks back in April of 2020, I have been a fierce advocate for their use, and for other ways to protect ourselves from COVID. I was doing the shopping for our house, going into the church for a few hours every day, and having limited interaction with people, so strong precautions were a matter of life and death to me. We were especially concerned because we had been to California in January, and had just returned from Miami (an early hotspot) a week before we went into lockdown in March. We escaped the virus, and are very grateful. 

I think that anyone who can get the vaccine and doesn’t is putting all of us in danger, and I think that people who refuse to wear masks and take other precautions are foolish and mean. We know for a fact that these things help – to say otherwise is to buy into fake news and conspiracy theories. There are groups of people, however, who can’t get the vaccine – they might have auto-immune deficiencies, weakened immune systems, or are undergoing treatments for illnesses like cancer. The vaccines haven’t yet been approved for children under 12, so they and their families have to exclude themselves from activities where the virus might be present. These groups are often overlooked in our rush to judgment, and they need our compassion. 

Compassionate care for others is a choice: the selfish and self-absorbed among us care little about making that choice, because it means extending themselves to others. They think it’s a sign of weakness to care about others. These kinds of people have an “every person for themselves” approach to life, and it shows in everything they do. This doesn’t mean they don’t love certain people or do good things for others – it means that these acts are often motived by personal gain, not altruism. They are often bullies, willing to mistreat others who disagree. And they are, in my experience, the minority. Thank God! 

Maybe it’s because I am in the non-profit world; maybe I just hang out with more people who care about others than those who don’t. Maybe people try to behave better around me because I am a pastor (you know the drill – an expletive comes out and they apologize to me!) I don’t think I will ever know, but I am glad that I can be around people like this most of the time. Compassionate people are often generous with their time, talents, and wealth – they see a homeless person and, instead of clucking their tongues in distaste, they wonder how they can get help. Compassionate people think twice before questioning someone’s motives – compassionate people live by the Golden Rule. 

We learn to be compassionate – we learn to give people the benefit of the doubt – we learn to stop before we make a judgment. If you are reading this, you are probably one of those people – I have found that those who aren’t concerned about others usually don’t read my thoughts more than once. That’s okay, although I wish they would take the time to do a self-check, something we should all do regularly. While we hold opinions because we think they are correct, there is a (slight) chance that we might be wrong (once or twice). Those of us who believe ourselves to be good people need to beware of the arrogance of goodness. Live compassionately – it is better for us and for those we come in contact. And it makes everything better. 

Prayer – God, You love, I think, when we feel with others in their distress – when we have compassion for people in difficult times. We are always learning to be and do better, and we thank You. Amen. 

Today’s art is called “In the Eye of God” from the Compassionate Teacher series from JYOTI SAHI ART ASHRAM .