Compassion Is The Measure Of Our Humanity

Posted by Wakanyi Hoffman on Mar 31, 2021
 
On Sunday, about 40 of us completed a two-week Compassion in Education Pod. What stood out for me is this idea of measuring the value of a good education. We have measures for academic performance and intelligence, we keep scores of sports achievement, our musical proficiency is measured by the ability to sing or play a note in perfect pitch, but we struggle to find ways of measuring the value of all of these pieces of education.

As I reflect on the insightful stories that were shared in this pod, I am deeply compelled to conclude that the true measure of one's education lies in an individual's natural inclination towards compassion. How one reacts in a crisis, how one treats strangers, how well one shows up in their family, community, at work, and in the world has a lot to do with how compassionate a person is. That to me is the measure of one's education.

As a mother, I took a deep and honest look at my training, and wondered if I have (subconsciously) been showing up in that role in compassion. Has compassion been the driving force behind the values that I desire to instill in my children? What narratives am I passing onto them about who they are?

I remember reading Michelle Obama's memoir and one thing stuck out and resonated with me when she said that her mother would often tell them, "I'm raising adults!" The reason it struck a chord with me was because I understood it to mean that parents are tasked with training children to become fully functional grown up humans. But I look back now, and the readings in this pod, along with the discussions, have clarified this statement. I now can say to my children, "You are in training to becoming good humans". I can only do this through compassion. But I can't do it alone. Parenting is the biggest department in the service industry, and it requires many employees. In Africa we say that "it takes a village to raise a child", and I'd like to modify that by saying, "It takes a villagefull of compassionate humans to raise one good human being". Indeed, a person is made more human by the guidance and collective love of many (Ubuntu).

It was in this pod that I became fully aware of this, and it also affirmed something I'd been battling to vocalize- it matters little what the school looks like, what the home looks like, where one is from, or what one is born into. It matters most how much exposure one has had with the full scale of human interconnectedness. That feeling of being a part of a web of goodwill, good wishes, and love is made possible through encounters with kind and compassionate people.

But it doesn't stop there, and it doesn't begin with others. It begins with an individual conviction and ends with the collective willpower. We all feed from that abundant pot into which all our hearts are poured unconditionally and replenished eternally.

Compassion is that inner voice that nudges you to behave well, to linger on a bit when someone else is talking, to feel the earth with your toes, to pick up after yourself, to plant a tree, to clean up the bit of the driveway that extends into the communal path, to hug a friend's crying child, to offer a compliment to your child's teacher, to speak up against injustice, to sign a petition that might just change a law that is oppressive to someone else's living conditions, to pay forward many acts of kindness, again and again, and all the while to do it effortlessly and intuitively.

If our children can turn out like that, if students in a classroom can recognize these traits as normal, human behavior, then they have received a good education.

Compassion Quotient is the measure of a good education.

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Originally posted in Cultivating Compassion in Education Pod.

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Comments (1)

  • Tushar Tamhane wrote ...

    You always have it and it doesn't matter from where you come - great insight. Thank you for capturing it so beautifully