I had a shocking experience the other night. I was working on some documents for a food drive with the Osaka Public schools when one of the students in our English school in South Kyoto came up to me and said, "Why do you care?".
It was not so much the question but how it was asked the sat me straight up in my chair. Along with the shock was the realization that this young lady really didn't care at all. Or did she? We will get back to that but first, we will take care of the first question….
I realized that it was a good question. Why would I care? This is not my country, I have no relatives sans my 5 offspring that are living with me… It made me wonder myself…
The first thing that came to mind was the fact that 23 years ago I was undergoing radiation treatment after an emergency cancer surgery. It was a defining moment in my life. Just weeks before, I had been diagnosed with a fast growing sarcoma on a wednesday and had surgery on thursday. The whole thing had been so fast and unexpected but suddenly my life was upside down.
I had been in sales for many years, working on getting the brass ring, the American dream. I had dreams of a house overlooking the city, a Suburban and a Porche, and a villa in Mexico and a condo in Waikiki… I already had a beautiful wife and handsome little son who was 6 months old.
And then in an instant, everything was changed. Absolutely and completely. To be honest, when the doctor told me that I had cancer, I just looked at it as just another part of life. I had lived a pretty interesting life, probably had more fun that most, was as successful as I hoped to be at that stage of my life, I figured that if it was my curtain call, it was really not that big a deal.
Then I got home. I picked up my little boy who was smiling and cooing cause his dad what home and he was ready for some guy time. Belly farts, tickles, a bath n then some bedtime singing… It was in that instant, seeing the trust in his eyes that everything was different. I realized that I couldn't bow out now, I had so much more to do. Someone had to teach him how to ride a bike, the tune the car, to tell the difference between a good girl and a mediocre one. I made up my mind, that I needed to live.
Its too long a story to tell, but I will just say that now that little boy is 24 years old, I am that much older as well and have 5 more children and a life that is just that much richer.
The heros of the story are many and mostly nameless. The thousands that prayed when my pastor called for prayer. Did their prayers heal me? Who knows, the point is that they cared enough to take their time. There was Chuck and Norma Yost who were at the door with dinner when I woke up on my first day home. That was followed with many, many others who brought dinner for my overwhelmed wife and I for weeks, there was the outpouring of love from so many people whom I had just had a cursory relationship with. In the end, it was that love that changed my life and taught me who I was in the is grand world and helped me understand compassion.
Today, when I look at those people who were just living their lives, yet had those lives twisted and wrecked in moment leaving nothing the same… when I look at those people, the least I can do is to be those that were all to me so many years ago. It's just a natural reaction.
For that young lady who challenged me for my compassion? I had no answer for her, because by just asking the question, it tells me she is not equipped to understand the answer. Sad as that is to me, it is just the reality of the situation. But something tells me that she will care at some time in the future, all in good time.
As for you? I hope that life has provided the impetus for you to have had heros in your life share the meaning and reality of compassion. If you have, please stand with me and support our family in NE Japan as they go thru horrendous trials. Hit the donate button or send a check or money order today. If you don't feel that compassion, do it anyway. It might just open a wonderful new chapter in your life. I know it will make a difference to those who you help.