Do we ever pause long enough to consider what that extra ounce of compassion towards others may reveal at critical moments when someone appears frustrated?
This week our Admin Assistant quit from his position without an explanation or discussion. On the surface he greeted us every day with a good morning and provided much needed support on numerous projects – so what led to this seemingly impulsive and rash decision? Did others know that he had clawed his way from the gang infested streets of LA to this position in the financial district of San Francisco? Could others understand what strength it took to survive years of abuse both physical and mental throughout his childhood that began at the age of 5 and continued until he was released from CYA resolved to redirect his life and obtain an education at 18? Did his manager, the poster image of a happily married successful all American man with the perfect family – a beautiful wife and 4 curious kids understand the scar that was left on that 5 year old boy when he was kidnapped from his father’s yard by a seemingly harmless ice cream van? Would this father understand the turmoil of being born into one of the oldest and most notorious and vicious gangs in LA who saw this child merely as access to the welfare checks that came with him? Did any of us realize that a simple acknowledgment, a “thank you” a “well done” some positive reinforcement would brighten up the day of this individual? Could we as a firm have done more to help him… to ease him through the transition from a life of extreme poverty, crime and violence to that of a safe and stable home as a fully employed young adult building his career and life in the Bay Area? Could we have given him that extra ounce of compassion and understanding to help him through his day, to help him overcome his frustration and most importantly to acknowledge him as a person, as another human being, as a valued member of the office?
That extra ounce of compassion is what I believe we should all remember when we grow impatient, when we see others become frustrated – can we really understand what it is like to walk in another’s shoes…to know what it is like to sleep on a dirt floor knowing that if the light were turned off the swarms of cockroaches would be crawling all over his body, to be beaten with the electrical cord from a broken lamp, to be told to steal his own clothes forcing him to become a cold, heartless teenager as the only method to survive until he could find a way out.
I know I can only provide compassion for my colleague who now struggles with finding his next position and enough funds to pay his rent when he has just $23 to his name… but will this be enough to prevent a downward spiral? Would there be others who would also compassion?
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