Today’s Seven Sentence post is from our new regular contributor Rose Angulo. Rose is an attorney who represents people on death row in Southern California.
It is easy to be moved with compassion for a child. You would have to be pretty cold-hearted not to be affected at all by the photos of impoverished, hungry children that numerous charities use for fundraising; it’s so clear that children are not at fault for the unfortunate situations in which they find themselves.
So we pat ourselves on the back for dropping change in the bucket to “save the children” as we leave the grocery story, our carts filled to the brim with potato chips, ice cream, and all sorts of gluttonous treats that we view as necessities in this culture.
But at some point, it seems, people age out of our capacity for compassion. When we see a gruff-looking man panhandling outside of the store, our brains come up with a million reasons why his begging is an insult and we convince ourselves that at some point between an impoverished childhood and adulthood, the playing field evens itself out, relieving us of any responsibility to use our resources to help.
My elderly friend David, who’s been homeless for over thirty years as a result of extreme childhood poverty combined with an adulthood characterized by trauma and mental illness, often sits with a sign that says “American’s Most Unwanted” because he believes that’s how society sees him.
What can you do to maintain the compassion and empathy you feel for a child, even when a person’s innocence and common humanity is not as obvious as it once was?