Category Archives: compassion

Watch Your Ripples

I was busy revising my first book today, when I came across this article. I wrote it in 2004, but it seems especially relevant today. So here it is again

With all the trouble and bad news in the world, people may wonder what the point is of being nice to each other. It often seems that over time, society is becoming more callous and people are spending more of their energy meeting their own needs rather than looking out for each other.

While you may be able to get more money or things by always putting yourself first, there is a price to pay. The price is that money and things become your only companions. You let others know you care only for yourself or are at best irrelevant to them. By thinking only of your own needs, you teach others to avoid you as a threat to their well being, since you are only interested in yourself and not them.

I have heard many sermons over the years. One of the few which has stayed with me has helped set the course of my life. One Sunday morning many years ago, Father Brendan Breen talked about our actions as being similar to a stone thrown in a pond. The stone creates ripples that travel far out from where it lands and changes the surface of the water for quite a distance. I have heard of waves which travel all the way across the Pacific Ocean.

In a similar way, how you treat your neighbors carries on down the line. Sometimes you discourage idealists who want to change the world. Even though you can’t recast the world to suit you, you can have a rippling effect on many people. Who knows how far the influence of your actions will carry?
Thought of in this way, everything that happens between you and others has some effect on the welfare of the human race. If you do something negative, the world is a little worse off. If you do something positive, the world is a little better place to live.

It is easy to see your life as insignificant among the billions of people inhabiting the planet. Your life is quite brief in the context of the thousands of years of civilization. You most likely are aware of the momentous contributions some people have made during the course of history. Your small contributions may not make the history books, but may brighten the lives of those you meet and maybe countless others you have not met.

How often do you think about the effect careless criticisms may have on others? Likewise, you may not be aware of the positive effect you have through your kindness toward others, and how far the effect may travel.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, can be to leave the world and its inhabitants a little better off than you found them. Rather than selfishly seeking to meet only your own needs, or being critical of others, you can care for others in little ways. The ripples of your actions can travel far and wide, eventually returning to enhance your own life.

Action Steps

  • Do you feel a need to put yourself first?
  • Do you feel you will lose out if you don’t?
  • How often do you consider others’ needs?
  • Try putting others’ needs first just for today.
  • See if they treat you differently as a result.

(Excerpt from my forthcoming book, Commonsense Wisdom for Everyday Life, 2nd. edition)

In a new video, Pope Francis urges compassion for refugees, people on the margins

Pope Francis holds a candle as he arrives to celebrate Mass marking the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 2.

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis called for greater compassion for refugees and marginalized people less than a week after President Trump ordered a temporary immigration ban from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

In a video of the pontiff’s prayer intentions for February, the Pope does not specifically refer to the president or his policies but emphasizes his concern about large numbers of people who he says are being marginalized and forgotten on the fringes of society.

(Excerpt from Religion News Service in the Catholic Post- read more.)




Consider this choice: Given two individuals with equivalent talent and skills, who do you look up to and prefer to work with, promote, or invite onto a project? Chances are it’s the more compassionate one.

If that sounds intuitively right, it’s now getting some backing by science—with a few conditions. Wharton professor Adam Grant argues that kindness and compassion give us a far greater advantage than self-absorption. Nice guys do finish first, he explains, as long as they learn how not to let others take advantage of them.

In his best-selling book, Give and Take, Grant explains that, yes, as many suspect, compassionate leaders sometimes do lose out. People who care about others’ well-being and look out for their colleagues and employees—the group Grant calls “givers”—are overrepresented at the bottom of the success ladder, having been mown down by selfish “takers.” But here’s the surprising finding: Grant also reveals that “givers” are overrepresented at the very top of the success ladder, too. How can that be?

It turns out that givers are more liked and appreciated and therefore become more influential. The difference between successful and unsuccessful givers often comes down to strategy: When givers learn strategies that prevent others from taking advantage of them, their “nice” qualities end up helping them succeed above and beyond anyone else. Why? In part because everyone loves working with them and appreciates them for their kind and giving qualities.

Excerpt from Emma Seppala’s article in Fast Company– read more

We’re Biologically Driven To Be Compassionate: 6 Surprising Health Reasons Why We Should Follow That Instinct

Studies have shown that our DNA drives us to carry out acts of compassion for the greater good of our species. There’s evidence indicating that infants show a preference for people they perceive as helpful, and other research suggest compassion is a motivator of kindness among toddlers as young as 2 years old. It turns out that those of us who offer — and receive — more compassion reap some hefty health benefits. We partnered with Dignity Health to look at a few of the ways compassion may boost your well-being.

Excerpt from Dignity Health’s article in Huffington Post– read more

Letter: A call for ‘compassion and humanity’


I live in, and love, the United States of America. A land of freedom built on a short history of great successes and unfortunate mistakes. I am prideful of our growth, but not blind to our failings. And while we live in a turbulent times, I will not let fear steal my compassion or humanity.

We are a very young nation, continuously growing and evolving. And with rapid growth comes inevitable mistakes. The gravest of which we have perpetuated on our own citizens; forced relocation of Native Americans, a civil war, Japanese internment camps, and most heinous; the enslavement of other human beings.

And through the lens of hindsight we look at our history of intolerance based on religion, nationality, economics or personal lifestyle and shake our heads thinking; “How could they have be so blind?”


Excerpt from  a letter to the editor in Salem News- read more

The chain reaction of compassion

There probably has been no other time in human history where we are so rich in resource but can get so easily depleted in spirit. We live in a competitive world where a sense of self-worth can be contingent upon outer criteria: standardized tests, schools, grades, appearance. We live in a world where disconnect is rampant although we have available tools to connect instantaneously.

Excerpt from Donna Ognibene’s article in the Wicked Local Belmont– read  more

Tibet’s spiritual leader speaks on love, compassion, tolerance, forgiveness


Bengaluru — In reply to a question about whether it is possible to preserve religious values without religion, the spiritual leader of Tibet suggested that in a world of 7 billion people, where 1 billion express no interest in religion, there has to be a way of exchanging the understanding of love, compassion, tolerance and forgiveness.

Excerpt from Jane Cook’s article in the Tibet Post- read more

In wake of Paris attacks, US should not ditch compassion


(Rasande Tyskar/ Flickr)

The recent terrorist attacks in Paris have understandably shaken the Western world to its core. The death toll is harrowing and the potential for more violence is terrifying.

The West has been attacked, and it wants to strike back. The terrorists ended over 100 precious lives and sent a strong message filled with fiery hate. It is only natural that we want to send an equally strong message back, an insistence that we will not stand idly by as our people are slaughtered and our values attacked.

But why then does much of the Western response make me feel sick? Why do I fear that the attacks have succeeded in bringing out the worst of us? I think it is because I am noticing a worrying trend. We are flirting with the dangerous idea that to protect ourselves and exact revenge, we must necessarily abandon any notion of compassion.

Excerpt from Benjamin Claybault’s article in the Daily Collegian- Read more

Will You Choose War or an Empire of Compassion?


Sometimes, we think that who we are and what we do doesn’t matter to the world.

We’ve heard that if we don’t learn from history, we’re condemned to repeat it. I’d prefer to learn.

In light of recent events, I’d like to share a story of the power of one person’s peace in the ancient world that is still impacting us now.
Listening to this story, we can always remember, peace is a choice. What will we chose today?

Excerpt from Susanna Barkataki’s article in The Huffington Post- read more

Exclusive report: A musicologist strikes a human note among Syrian refugees

Our good friend Dr Stephen Roe, former head of music manuscripts at Sotheby’s in London, was taking a family break on the Greek island of Samos when he found himself in the thick of human desperation, obliged as a decent human being to help others in need. Here are some excerpts from the diary he has been keeping this past week. Impossible not to be moved by the disaster.

stephen roe refugees
August 30

Driving towards Vathi, the capital of Samos today, we passed 30 or so refugees, men, women, young children, but probably mostly young men. They were miles from anywhere. It was 7am. Probably just arrived. Then we took boat to Turkey and saw scores of life-vests on the shores, and further up the beach. I hope they were only abandoned after the poor people thought they needed them no longer. They were in remote bays, with sole access from the sea. What is to be done?

Excerpt  from Norman Lebrecht’s article in Slipped Disc- See more at: