Do you know someone who loves himself and treats others with just as much compassion? Do you know someone who gives generously of herself, not because it will be to her advantage but because her compassionate nature compels her to do so?
Who are your Golden Rule people?
We asked this question of our book study group on Monday night while discussing Karen Armstrong‘s Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. Some people were lucky enough to marry Golden Rule spouses. Others remembered grandparents or aunts and uncles as compassionate beings. One or two politicians even made the cut.
Here is the beginning of my list:
The picture is of the gravestone of Nobel Peace Prize recipient and former Canadian prime minister, Lester B. Pearson. We have him to thank for Canadian Peacekeeping and our distinctive Canadian flag, so he gets a vote.
I wrote about Dr. James Orbinski‘s book, An Imperfect Offering, in one of my book reviews. I met him a few years ago when his book was up for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. I admire him and his work with Doctors Without Borders.
I wrote about Alex McKeague in “I want to live like Alex.” He was a Golden Rule person for sure.
Many people at my church qualify—too many to name individually. They drive for Meals on Wheels. They visit people in hospital. They support local outreach programs.
I would put John, the trip leader from my recent Habitat for Humanity trip, on the list. He is a volunteer firefighter and paramedic, he volunteers with Global Medic (he even did one stint at a cholera treatment centre), and he has led several Habitat teams around the world. When his wife was ill, he cared for her with the radical tenderness we would all wish for when so vulnerable.
But at our Monday night gathering we had to pick just one person to talk about.
I chose my friend Marybeth. She has the greatest capacity to love of anyone I know. All living things receive love in full measure. Every turtle, hamster and guinea pig in their family menagerie has known Marybeth’s great capacity for caring. Years ago one of her children brought a fertilized chicken egg home to hatch as part of a school project. Marybeth fell in love with the egg first,and then the chick that hatched from it. The fuzzy yellow ball of baby chick even sat on her shoulder and chirped when she worked at her computer. When the chick had to return to the farm, Marybeth cried. She has a dog now. That is one cherished dog.
And people, well, if anyone has Marybeth as a friend, they are well taken care of. Marybeth’s nature does not allow her to rest easy if those around her are not comfortable and happy. She will do whatever she can to try to make every situation better. When my father died she was the first person at my house to give me a hug. If anyone is sick or in need of support, she is there to help with food, rides or empathy. Our children are the same ages and I’ve lost track of the number of times that Marybeth has been my support person for child pick-ups or rides to sporting events.
She is actively involved in the community, volunteering with local organizations, schools and her church.
She gives generously, and receives comfortably, too.