Web of Humanity

Elaine - Corvallis, Oregon
Entered on June 6, 2007

I believe in the power of compassion. The girl behind you in math class, the old man in front of you in the supermarket and the supermodel on the runway all share similarities with you which outweigh the differences. As humans, I believe we must extend our open heart a little wider to the person next to us, to the person who had accidentally gotten lost and hurt in the race of life. I have experienced first-hand what a little heart can do for a person.

One hotter than usual summer day I volunteered at a Summer Special Olympics put on at my high school. My assigned job included pulling numbers off the athletes. As the sun grew hotter, I quickly walked to pull a number seven jersey off a tall brown haired participant. His height and stocky build in combination with my short stature of 5’1” caused an amusing task. As I finally managed to pull the jersey off he commented, “I’m so lucky.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because you’re so beautiful,”

“Aww, thanks,” I smiled and escorted him to his destination. Beautiful, he had said the word without any air of arrogance or taste of sarcasm in his mouth. I could not stop smiling through the rest of the events even with the sun strengthening its reign. A simple voice of compassion had validated me and for the rest of the day I walked with confidence. The search to feel wanted is a purely humanistic trait. A family member or friend may say a kind word yet the feelings from a stranger provide the best evidence in the case we wage against ourselves.

Compassion often comes in words yet it is rooted in actions and feelings causing words to be trivial. I recently began volunteering at Stone Soup, a volunteer based program, which provides a meal to anyone in need. My first time volunteering there I had no idea what to expect. After serving about 100 people, the woman in charge, told me I could go eat. I grabbed a tray and headed out to the dining area. Where am I going to sit? Would I have anything to talk to these people about? I recognized another volunteer eating and promptly sat down next to him. Ramon was conversing with a 36-year-old man who had recently moved from Missouri to Oregon. He told us how his friend was offered a job out here and they hitched a ride across the country. His eyes lit up as the story poured from his soul. In that moment, I realized the power of listening, appreciating and validating another person.

Our differences make us unique and distinctive but our similarities bind us together. With each smile and kind act the web of humanity grows stronger, till the spindles extend to every human being providing a net the catch the falling fellow man.