As a father of two boys, my biggest challenge (also, fun!) is in raising them to be compassionate. Compassion is not airy fairy at all; it involves examining everyday matters with understanding and taking appropriate actions – or at times doing nothing at all – with courage.
To me, if the kids do well at school or at something they do, that is a bonus. Good on them! But if they are not compassionate beings, they would have failed in life (*).
I find that compassion sounds straightforward theoretically, but living with compassion takes diligent practice. In fact, when you think it through, no human beings are wholly compassionate. At best, one can only be a practitioner of compassion! Encountering hundreds of situations everyday, one constantly needs to seek to understand, rather than blaming; chooses to move forward when things get tough, rather than retreating. In most cases, one needs to take the hard road instead of the easier one. There’s hardly anyone who can do this day in day out without failure.
I would take the easier one any time if I could. Who wouldn’t?! Everyone would appreciate that life sometimes gets awfully hard. But would I grow as a human being if I took the easy path? That’s the Question, and Legacy, that I wish to leave behind for my children. And that would be enough.
There is no doubt that I will need to keep growing and set the right examples. Although I fail in this attempt most days, this is one case where clearly words are usually hollow, and only actions count. I need to keep trying.
I thought for a long time before posting this. This is most of all a note to myself, but it probably shares the wavelength with many parents. I can only hope the kids discover this note some day at the right moments. It would have been presumptuous and silly of me to preach; that’s not the intent.
(*) The truth is: compassionate people never fail in life, not in the worldly sense. Less is usually more, but collectively we need more compassion.