Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Human Compassion



(image from www.slu.edu)

Last night, I was privileged to hear Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace laureate, speak.  He was fantastic.  He had the audience captivated by his gentleness and his stories of human life.

The part of Wiesel's message that spoke most clearly to me was his sense of human ethics:  we are all part of the same human family, and we are, not one of us, alone.  Only God is alone, he says.  We know who we are by seeing through the eyes of another looking at us, and thus as we are looking at them.  We must value and care for others because they are human, and in their humanity they are just like us.

For one who lived through the profoundly horrific experience of the Holocaust, his message is remarkably life-giving and beautiful.  Perhaps it's because of his suffering that he has such wisdom to share with the world.

I've been thinking about suffering a lot lately, too.  If given the option of an easy life instead of any sort of suffering, I think most would desire the easy life.  But, in a life without trials, would we really grow as human beings?  Would we be able to become deep-thinking people, compassionate people without some suffering? 

On the other side of those questions is the reality that each of us experiences suffering, and we seek to find meaning in that experience of hardship.  How have my trials, little as they are compared to those of others, shaped my own life, my own ability to be compassionate toward those around me?

No comments: