by Anthony Lenz
Dictionary defines compassion as a sympathetic consciousness
of others’ distress, together with a desire to alleviate
it. Compassion is to be empathetic towards those individuals
in need as well as showing mercy through fulfilling those
needs. It is easy to define compassion with words, but to
truly understand it, you need to experience it first hand.
I have been blessed with severe insight on what it means
to receive compassion through said experience.
In May of 1998,
my mother was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, an
aggressive cancer of the lymphatic system. I was eight when
she underwent treatment to fight the spreading disease.
During this time our family was under both psychological
and financial strain in which we were in desperate need
of some support. It was at this time that our community
compassionately stepped forward and helped our struggling
family. The efforts were headed by our local church and
its gracious members. While my father was caring for my
mother, my siblings and I had been invited to stay with
those members of our church, whom we live with for several
weeks. Local businesses had donation cans in which they
collected funds to ease our financial burden created by
piling medical bills. There was also a blood drive held
by AYSO on opening day, in which blood was donated in my
My mother resided
at City of Hope, a medical institution established as a
safe-haven for those battling cancer, where she received
treatment by means of chemotherapy. She eventually received
a stem cell transplant in December of 1999 and one month
later she was declared cancer free. It is my personal belief
that without the support of my extended family and of the
community, my mother would have not survived her fight with
cancer. This allowed me to see the importance of compassion
and the lasting effect it has on people.
more than just doing good things for those in need of it.
Compassion is having empathy towards the person you’re
helping. It is important that you understand their position
and motivations to effectively ease and subdue their suffering.
Recently I participated
with my church’s youth group in a 30 hour fast to
raise money for world hunger. During our time together we
also packed food boxes for families in need. It took starving
myself to realize the seriousness of world hunger. That
these momentary pangs of hunger I felt were an accepted
reality for those people we were trying to help. The experience
gave me but a taste of what these people have to go through
on a daily basis. It also allowed me a greater understanding
of what it means to be compassionate, seeing a need and
taking great strides to try to fulfill it.
scarce in today’s world. Whether it is something as
simple as giving money to beggar, or even helping an elderly
person with their groceries, people are too egocentric to
even consider helping. They would rather hold onto their
spare change rather than satisfying a need. But that’s
the thing about compassion, giving, and any random act of
kindness, they are contagious. It just takes a hand-full
of determined, sympathetic individuals whose benevolence
galvanizes others in to making a difference as well.