Crisis of Compassion

The Reverend Gayle Catinella commentary for 01/24/2019
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Once again as a nation we find ourselves in a crisis of compassion. In the wake of

the government shutdown, the closing of car plants, the uncertain economy,

some of our family and friends are in trouble. And it is in times like these when we

are called by whatever we believe in to become more than we are, to be our best

selves. It is in times like these we see people’s hearts. And sometimes it is



While I have my opinions on all of the crises we face, this is not a political

commentary. It is a plea for community. It is an invitation to step up, not to step

back, to commit to caring, and to act on it.


Maybe your neighbor is a contractor with the federal government who has no

current income. Maybe your mother lives alone and is going to be snowed in.

Maybe your cousin is on food stamps because they are developmentally delayed,

and they don’t know if they will get food stamps because of the shutdown.

Maybe your best friend works at the GM plant and has no clue about their future.

I guarantee you that you know someone who is hurting or afraid right now,

someone who needs you.


I listen to the news, and I hear the meanness. I hear the judgement. I hear the

anger. And I get some of it. People are frustrated, people want change, people

want their lives to be safe and healthy and stable. And…in a democracy we cannot

achieve those things by putting others at risk or taking away our neighbor’s

security. We cannot build our own security or wealth on the insecurity of others.

In a democracy we are as secure and stable as the one who is the least secure and

stable. We are essentially working against our best interests when we allow

others to suffer.


Some people say that it is human nature to judge or put people into categories of

us and them. They say that we can’t help it, we have to look down on others to

feel good about ourselves. Some people say this country was built on those in

power taking from those who are not, that ensuring our own power and

advantages are just how things go. Those people who say that are simply wrong.

Again, in a democracy, we have a vested interest in each other, and we have to

act for the good of everyone.


I know that some hearts will remain closed. But for those of us who believe that

we can make a difference, that goodness matters, and that practicing kindness

makes us whole, there are some things that we can do.

First, call your neighbors, friends, family who you know are at risk and ask them

how you can help. They might have no idea, but the fact that you asked, that they

know you are on their team and that they matter to you, sometimes that makes

all the difference. Be a supporter!


Second, be nice. Flippant remarks hurt people. Being casual or callous about the

suffering of others is cruel. Frankly meanness doesn’t look good on anyone. Thank

people who are kind. Say no when you are invited to be mean or when jokes are

not funny. Be the example you want to see, or as wisdom tells us, treat other

people as you would want to be treated.


Finally, be honest. Most of us are one or two paychecks from disaster. So refrain

from judgement. Understand that most people carry sorrows and worries that

you do not know about. Life is precious and precarious. You never know what will

happen next.


If you are one of those who are suffering, who need help, let someone know. Call

the 211 hotline and see what is available in your area. There is help for you. Don’t

be afraid to ask for it.


This is a time when we need to pull together, to be the compassion we want to

see. Don’t be distracted or seduced by meanness. We need each other. Let’s be

the caring community that we know we are.