The Power of Compassionate Action

Note: The Kickstarter for my new book Empathy Every Day is closing down on March 31st. If you haven’t backed the project yet, I’d love for you to check it out here.

It was my daughter’s 11th birthday a few days ago on March 28th.

My wife and I were scrambling to make sure it was special, even though she wouldn’t be able to have a real birthday party, hang out with her friends, or see her extended family.

Honestly, I didn’t have many ideas and was upset for her. I knew there was much worse happening in the world, but at that moment, I could only think about what it was like for my 11-year-old in a world turned upside down.

My wife, on the other hand, sprung to action.

She set up Zoom calls with her swim friends, school friends, and both sides of the family.

She got unicorn decorations, balloons, and all kinds of little things that would transform our house into a birthday party atmosphere overnight.

As we were blowing up the balloons, I couldn’t help but notice that just having empathy would not have led to all of these ideas and plans.

It was a compassionate action that started the process of making this day something special.

The next morning my daughter was so excited to see the decorations when she woke up, my wife also surprised her by making crepes for breakfast (with fruit, whip cream, and nutella).

Then the Zoom calls started to happen. My daughter was pumped chatting with her swimming friends, and then jumped on another zoom call with her school friends. Presents and signs started to show up on our front lawn. It seems liked there was a special surprise happening around the clock.

I had posted her birthday on Twitter and hundreds of folks wished her a happy 11th!

Then, something truly compassionate and amazing happened.

We got word that a large group of our neighborhood friends had been planning a birthday drive-by. When we started to hear the beeping and cheering, we all ran to the front porch to see what was going on.

You can see her face, pure joy.

That’s the power of compassionate action.

It may have been a small act. In fact, most of the day was filled with small acts done by other people for my daughter.

Each one meant something big to her. Each one made the day special.

But, more importantly, each compassionate act did something much more powerful.

It allowed her to see that even when life is crazy and unexpected, it is the people who can make it better. It is the people who build our hope through compassionate action.

I’ve seen this all over the world as we are faced with a pandemic. The stories are happening right now in front of us, the compassionate actions are starting to impact all of us and empathy is needed now more than ever.

Thank you to everyone who made my daughter’s birthday special, but more importantly, thank you to everyone who has been taking their own compassionate actions over these past few weeks.

You’ll most likely only see the tip of the iceberg in terms of its impact, but believe me, there is so much power in our collective actions.

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