Saturday, December 01, 2012

Simple Gift of Compassion

By now, many of us would have seen the simple story of a NYPD cop buying and putting on a pair of boots on a homeless man. Officer Lawrence DePrimo has been hailed a "hero," a "good cop" and "one of New York's finest." All because of a single act of compassion, of selfless giving, and a reminder that there are many less fortunate than he is. This caught the eye of an Arizona tourist, Jennifer Foster who snapped a picture and posted it online. The rest is history.

You can watch the interview here or below.


Since the picture was posted at the NYPD Facebook page here, it has been viewed millions of times. In social media terms, the photo has gone viral. Here are some of my thoughts.

#1 - Compassion begins with Self-Awareness

Knowing that the weather is cold, one experiences the reality of what it means to be shivering. In life, we all know that our human body is susceptible to the fluctuations in temperatures. Whether it is too hot or too cold, or when our bodies are subjected to sudden changes in temperature, we fall ill easily. Officer DePrimo recognizes how cold the weather was, and personally knows how it feels not to have socks or boots. He is aware of the conditions he is in.

#2 - Compassion Needs Action

Seeing and knowing that it is cold is not enough. What then are we doing about it? In truth, Officer DePrimo could have just walked past and do his own duties. Yet, he did something that is out of his own initiative. He talked to the homeless man lying on the street. He asked questions. He reconnected to his own reactions to cold. He remembered that there is a shoe store nearby. He went to the store asking for Winter boots. He returned to check the shoe size with the homeless man. He paid $75 for the boots. He took the boots, knelt down, and put on the boots on the homeless man. One action leads to another.

#3 - Compassion Thrives Unnoticed

For all the nice things that have been said about the NYPD good cop doing a good deed, I feel that there is a danger of people blowing things out of proportion. For that matter, cops around many cities will be hard-pressed to follow the act. Moreover, how are we to distinguish copycat acts? How do we distinguish a genuine compassionate act, instead of one that is being acted out for the purpose of fame? True compassion must always be something done quietly, unnoticed, and covered with an utter reluctance to be famous or for anyone to know about it.

Jesus has said that we need to learn to give in such a way, that we let not our good deeds be publicized too widely. Let our left know not what our right hand is doing. True compassion is done in the name of God, not in the name of self. True compassion is practiced for the good of men, not for the reputation of self. True compassion must be willing and honest.

#4 - Do a Good Deed Yes, but Give from the Heart, not for the Camera

Finally, let me encourage all of us to give from the heart during this Christmas season. It is not the quantity of things we give out. Neither is it whether it was appreciated or not. As long as we give from the heart, let God take care of the rest. Whether our acts go viral or not, we will continue to show kindness.

Let compassion lead to action. Let action lead to the betterment for all.


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