In this blog, we’re talking about why people do the things they do. I hope to draw on things I’ve seen, read and maybe even thought that might be fun to consider as we explore motives and behavior. And of course, you can suggest things you've seen, read and thought to contribute to the conversation.
If you’ve read my first novel, 7 Sanctuaries, you’ll probably agree that one of the themes of the book is “compassion”. Katie shows compassion to a woman at a farmer’s market, to a family threatened by a hurricane and to members of the “Freedom Riders”, a group of activists demonstrating for equal rights. Rev. Phillips seeks opportunities to show compassion and to encourage others to be compassionate in his ministry. Others show compassion here and there.
In a TED Talk (TED Talks are absolutely incredibly inspirational and educational and free on the inter-webs – go to TED.com!), Nipun Mehta says “Compassion is contagious.” Showing compassion causes us to want to show more compassion and causes others to be compassionate. As an example, he describes an experiment he has conducted called, “Kharma Kitchen.” Every Sunday night, volunteers take over a restaurant. When the customer finishes his or her dinner, the check is presented as a “$0.00” charge. The customer is told their meal has been paid for by the customer before them, and they can pay whatever they choose for the customer who came after them. Then that customer pays for the one who followed them and the chain continues.
“When you count on people like that to be generous,” Mehta asks, “how long will that chain last?” He explains, “It’s been going for three years.” It’s also expanded to other cities around the country.
From time to time we hear about “Pay it forward” stories on Facebook, on YouTube, from our friends, etc. Perhaps we’ll discuss those in the future. But the pertinent question about compassion is:
“How long does it last?”
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