The Power of Compassion

Chang - Austin, Texas
Entered on November 30, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in the power of compassion. I believe that acts of caring and forgiveness can erase pains and heal emotional wounds. And I believe that mutual sympathy can break down individual boundaries and unite us humans into one being.

My grandparents belonged to the last generation of Chinese landowners whose downfall was brought by the Cultural Revolution, a movement during which the intense social conflict created and spread suspicion and resentment among the Chinese people. Deprived of everything they once had, my grandparents’ sufferings were further deepened by the betrayal of close friends whose false accusations resulted in their imprisonment. My grandparents never recovered from the wound, they remained suspicious toward others throughout their lives. I grew up in a family whose painful history illustrates to me man’s cruelty and indifference toward one another and discourages me from trusting others. For a long time, I could not feel the warmth of friendship and disliked interaction with others because I, like my grandparents, feared being hurt.

I thought that I would live isolated from others for the rest of my life; however, an unexpected event in my senior year at high school forever changed my belief. A destructive earthquake occurred in China, tens of thousands people were killed while more were buried under the ruin. The National Honor Society at my school decided to host a fund raising event to help the earthquake refugees, and I was in charge of collecting the donations. I was suspicious about the nature of fund raising events, because deep in heart I do not believe that any human being would have concern for others’ well-being, especially for ones whom they have never met before in their life. I was not at all optimistic about the result of my fund raising effort; in fact, I expected that only a few people would be willing to donate. I was wrong. On the event day, hundreds of people showed up, they brought with them change, clothes and encouraging notes. There were so many of them standing in the line and waiting patiently for their turn to donate their money to people they never knew. I was confused, I was bewildered, and I was upset because my belief was torn apart by the reality. People are compassionate toward others’ sufferings–the thing that I never imagined possible was happening in front of my eyes. Out of curiosity, I asked a donor why he was willing to give, and I will never be able to forget his answer. He replied: “Because I care.”

I believe that we humans have the ability to understand and care for others’ sufferings, and I believe that no matter how badly we hurt each other, the power of compassion will bring us together again. After all, the world is not a terrible place full of conflicts, lies and betrayals, because I, like you, care for others.