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What Happened to Empathy and Compassion?

As a community, we should try to bond, have empathy for another, and show compassion to those who really need it.

I was speaking with a friend of mine yesterday concerning a fundraiser we had worked hard on together. It is amazing how someone three states away, didn’t even know the person, yet wanted to participate in assisting a family just based on the circumstances.

We just tallied the funds raised for the fundraiser $505.97 of the $5,000 goal for funeral and cremation expenses of a young man who was accidentally killed during a hostage situation. 

I never met the family of this young man, but have met him on several occasions as he was a friend of my stepson. When I heard of their financial situation, spoke with the funeral home and church on their behalf, I felt the need to help this family. 

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak with this young man’s mother. She could barely complete a sentence due to the weight of the grief and suffering.

This was a mother who loved her child very much, regardless of any faults he may have had. I assured her that on every occasion her child was at our home he was always polite, respectful, had a smile on his face, a wonderful personality and sense of humor. It broke my heart to hear the pain in her voice.

Seems the community was too busy blaming the hotel, others the police.  Yet, few showed any empathy or compassion for this child’s family. 

Empathy is the capacity to recognize feelings that are being experienced by another sentient or semi-sentient (in fiction writing) being. Someone may need to have a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion.

Compassion is the virtue of empathy for the suffering of others. It is regarded as a fundamental part of human love, and a cornerstone of greater social interconnection and humanism —foundational to the highest principles in philosophy, society, and personhood.  2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Whatever happened to assisting your fellow man? Maybe I just expect too much from others or should have felt the need to help someone as well.  No one plans for their child to die before them. Not everyone is in a financial position to pay for this unexpected cost; then again, the family did not ask for charity.  

Attempting to fundraise on behalf of the family was something I felt the need to do as a mother, as a Christian, as a human being that can still show empathy and compassion for another.

I didn’t expect everyone to write a $100+ check to assist. Heck, even $.25 from 20,000 people would have covered the funeral costs; the city has a population over 62,000. Bet anyone could have found that in their couch cushion, car astray, bottom of their purse, or laying on the sidewalk. At the time I started this event, I didn’t think $5,000 would be hard to achieve. 

I was wrong. 

To make it so bad, I have even been personally attacked for attempting this fundraiser by two individuals that feel people should pay their own way. Apparently they are clueless to others that may not have a large income. Who knows?!?  Everyone is entitled to an opinion and may not be willing to change their way of thinking. 

It isn’t just the fundraiser where I have noticed a lack of compassion. Seems that in general society has disassociated itself from people.  I know I tend to be negative when I see people standing on the corner with their signs stating they are homeless, jobless, etc. I see it so much every day that we tend to believe it is a scam; especially when they have freshly pressed, clean clothes and expensive footwear.  Yet, there are some people that are truly in this circumstance and they won’t get the help because of the action of others.

As a community, we should try to bond, have empathy for another, and show compassion to those who really need it.  Not everyone is as fortunate as the next person.  As an individual, I will continue to pick the causes to support so that I can continue to receive unexpected blessings.  I did my best with the help of several special people; I give my sincere thanks Lizette Nelson, Bobbi Grassle, Michelle Jackson and the people who donated.  It is a blessing in itself to have caring people in my life.

In the future, I would ask everyone to show empathy and compassion for another.  If you are in a position to lend a hand to someone truly in need, please do so.  You never know if you may find yourself in a similar situation.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Kim Lemrick October 10, 2012 at 11:08 PM
I might have missed it in your post, how did you get the word out about your fundraiser and what were you doing to raise funds? This post is the first I've heard of it.
D.J. October 10, 2012 at 11:27 PM
How much is enough? The taxes I pay are enough and the people that need the help don't use these resources properly. I donate weekly and some of that money pays for the people that hang out at the Red Roof to have a nice warm bed in prison.
Rhonda Fitzgerald October 11, 2012 at 12:11 AM
@ D.J. Everyone pays taxes whether we like it or not. As for the person enjoying our tax dollars in prison, I can't do anything about that > they are exactly where they need to be so they do not have the opportunity to harm another individual. However, I can do what I can to assist a family that has to bury their son because of the man that is in prison. Spare change from a few people's couch cushion would have covered the necessary costs. This woman has not even had a chance to breathe behind Brook's Funeral Home harassing them for the money to cremate their son, not to mention the church wanting their share too. Considering taxpayers are going to house, clothe and feed the man in prison for years to come, I don't think spare change to help bury the casualty of the incident a hardship. Then again, that is my opinion and everyone is entitled to one.
Chris Soukup October 11, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Same here. With all due respect to Rhonda, I think before we get too down on our neighbors, we should look at how many actually knew about your worthy cause. You can't blame people or not giving to something they aren't aware of.
Rhonda Fitzgerald October 11, 2012 at 03:48 AM
@ Kim and @ Chris. I did my best reaching out to the public through the internet and flyers; at least 1,000 people with just our FB pages alone. However, if you are interested in he fundraiser or know someone who may, the details can be found at www.reflectionswithrhonda.com under Mark Henderson Fundraiser.

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