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Learning Compassion

Why Indifference Is the Enemy

Publication Date:
2/1/2008
Pages:
0
Session(s)
1
Product Type:
Internet Download
Youth Study, Youth Study
Product Number:
TC5014

How does one learn to be compassionate? Is this an inborn trait, or do we need to actually learn it? Apparently the latter is the case for most of us.

Anyone who works with adolescents can find oneself bothered, at times, by many youths' apparent indifference. Although there are developmental and biological issues that can influence young people to look inward--making them the center of their own universe--most caring youth workers long to see their youth be more compassionate.

Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel has written over fifty books and is known for saying that our biggest enemy is indifference, not hate. Wiesel watched thousands of his Jewish friends, neighbors, and family members go to the gas chambers while good people watched with indifference. Recent research on those who did risk their lives to help victims of the Holocaust has shown that those rescuers showed a strong tendency to be moved by pain. Somewhere in their lives, the rescuers had developed the capacity to connect with, and to be moved by, another's pain.

This one-session study helps youth actually walk in another's shoes for a small period of time and then reflect on that. Through additional activities and discussions about compassion, the youth are encouraged to focus on another's pain and show compassion. A number of additional activities are provided that make it easy to turn this into a two-session study.

Bruce Main is President of Urban Promise Ministries in Camden, New Jersey and coauthor with Tony Campolo of Revolution and Renewal from WJK.


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