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   WZM Award for Compassion 




WZM Award presented on June 6, 2011 to Robert Burns, Frazier Mountain High School


Compassion Essay
By Robert Burns

Compassion, to me, is one of the most important human traits we can obtain. Often underused and misunderstood, to me it remains a trait I strive to obtain on a daily basis. Learning this trait came to me at an early stage in life. My mother always stressed the importance of being kind and understanding, especially with the ones who needed it most. She commonly would use the comparison of two polar opposites in society, a poor man, and rich man. She would explain that both deserved sympathy and empathy when in times of need. She would say, attmept to place yourself in their shoes. It sounded so simple, but the message was so powerful. Everyone deserves compassion. She often explained that it was a trait that should not include anything expected in return. A selfless act really, that benefited someone else besides yourself.

My mother often told me to try and take the time out of everyday to be merciful to someone who needed it. Even if it was a small act, it was important. It took age and a little wisdom to realize just how powerful these little acts can be. She made me realize that although it may be a small act of compassion to you, it may be huge for the person receiving it. This became so true, and I've seen it play out so many times. Something that seemed so small and took little time became a big deal to someone else. She constantly explained the importance of expressing sympathy at the micro rather than macro level. The small acts, which can go unnoticed, are the ones that count the most. She continued to remind me that it was only an act of compassion if you did something with out expecting anything in return.

The final and most important lesson my mother taught me in compassion took place almost six years ago. On September 25, 2005, my mother had a major stroke and became crippled on the right side of her body. Now, the woman who taught me all the lessons about being kind, considerate, and understanding is in dire need of all those herself. My family came together hand in hand and stood by the side of my mother when she was at her lowest and offered any help we could. Together we met tragedy with compassion and compassion prevailed. The miracle did not end there. Our entire mountain family came together and did anything and everything they could to help. This included rides, meals that were catered and delivered for my family, a million visits to the hospital, emotional support, and almost anything you could think of. This experience was the biggest display of compassion I have ever witnessed in my life.

Words can not explain how thankful I truly am for the lessons my mother has taught me in compassion. Although she is not back to the way she was before her stroke, she doesn't let that get in the way of her making small differences and, doing everything she can to minimize human suffering. This entire experience is a constant reminder of how powerful listening and attempting to understand, with out judging, can really be. This experience is also a constant reminder to continue practicing this trait at every chance I get. She is truly an inspiration to me and many others. I can proudly say that compassion will forever be an important part of my life because I have seen what it can do, and what can be accomplished when like-minded people embody the changes they most wish to see in this world.

"Be The Change You Wish To See In The World"
Mahatma Ghandi


Ruth Ratna Handy, LCSW
(818) 834-5925


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