The ugliness perceived by our children and why compassion will save the world!
I was sitting in the dentist office with my #6 kid (Rowan). We are here again because he has teeth that cavities love. (my words) and of course I blame my husband. He has perfect teeth, but I am certain the teeth thing is on his end. (oops, I digress).
Anyway, I don’t mind the dentist office because she has a wide range of reading materials that are really important (eg: People magazine). I thumbed through the most recent People and noticed a very interesting photo of a women. At first I thought it was a crazy photo-shopped image, then I went back to it and read the article. What I found was shocking, amazing, cruel, sad ….heartwarming.
Meet Lizzie Velasquez, her story is heartbreaking and amazing at the same time. She speaks on bullying and courage. As I read the opening paragraphs I found myself crying. Her story is about the excitement of starting Kindergarten, and how it ended with cruel comments from other kids. Then at home the first day asking her parents if she looked different and why the kids were mean? Lizzie has a severe genetic disorder that has radically adjusted her features and ability to gain weight, in a way that is not “perfect” in fact, far from perfect according to societal standards…whatever that is. She grew up with cruel behavior from kids, teens and random people. She just tried to get through school and then one day she stumbles across a video, announcing the “ugliest woman alive,” and discovers they are talking about her.
Wow! What compels someone to do that? And imagine being her!
Expert from article:
“Some of the comments said things like “just go get a gun, put it to your head and take yourself out of the world. It will be a much better place,” and “put a bag over your head, because when people see your face they’re going to go blind.” I can’t even describe the depth of my pain for this child, teenager and now woman, as I read the article. How she has managed to find courage and compassion over and over again is epic. Thankfully she has a reserve of incredible inner strength and has transformed her life as a result, but her life got me thinking and for that I am grateful.
And to that end…it dawned on me that we raise our kids as best as we can. We example behavior, ethics and morals in order to encourage our kids be good humans. But how do we really build a strong foundation of compassion or care?
How do we know that when our kids see “difference” that they show kindness?
Do they… always? Or do they sometimes follow the lead of others and stay the mean course? Or hide behind a computer and insult without remorse?
I feel like I spend time modeling compassion to my kids, but to be honest, I just hope they take the important-ness of it out into their friend groups, social situations or online. Sometimes I am witness to their compassion for others, but I am not always with them. I truly believe compassion can save the world. Does our world need saving? I watch Presidential debates that leave me hopeless. The behavior of some politicians, are at the least, embarrassing, if not reprehensible. Imagine a Presidential debate that centered on compassion vs. aggressive attacks? Oh-dare to dream. What if business was conducted with more empathy?
What if every time we are angry, we find compassion, what if someone wrongs us, we find compassion? What if we show our kids emphatically that being kind is far superior to all other behavior. If we actively showed compassion and kindness to more people, it would make them feel better, then when they feel better, they will feel better about other things …and treat someone else with compassion. Then rinse and repeat! Slowly but surely our communities will be more engaged and helpful to each other. Not the head down kind-of-not-my-problem way things are going. We are not perfect visually and emotionally, and we are probably not-so-perfect at parenting either. I know that I am not, but I do know that a single act of compassion can change someone’s life. It’s positive effects can cause a ripple through a community, like that of a stone thrown in a pond. Imagine the impact your act of kindness or your child’s act of compassion can have on a person that really needs it. I am thinking that Lizzie certainly would have loved compassion.
Thank you Lizzie for your strength and for giving me the gift of your compassion to others.
To read more of Lizzie’s story please follow the link.
Jennifer, CEO/Founder of TruKid and mom of 6.