Posts Tagged ‘compassion’

Compassion Fatigue

February 12, 2016

“He was deeply disturbed by their indifference to human need.”  Mark 3:5

When did you first hear the term “Compassion Fatigue”?    It is actually a medical or psychological term, and it was first described in disaster response workers.  It was a form of stress where the worker saw so much suffering for so long, that they were experiencing a special form of burnout.  They ceased to be able to feel emotion.  They couldn’t feel sadness, anger at the situation, joy at gains made, or  well, anything.  It was called “Secondary Traumatic Stress”.  However, if you hear the term today, it can refer to something different.  It can refer to the amount of human suffering before our eyes on the television every day–suffering about which we can do nothing–that we start to take an indifferent attitude toward it, not feeling much of anything.  It can also refer to the frustration and finally indifference someone may feel toward the panhandler they have seen on the corner every day for the past four years, who never moves on or improves.  Was this what Jesus was disturbed about?

In Jesus day, the streets seemingly were filled with beggars.  People begged because they were too disabled to work, and their were no programs, homes, or charities to help them.  Obviously these were people whose families could not or would not help them.  There were so many, and it must have seemed so endless, that people just walked on by, ignoring them.  This deeply disturbed Jesus.  So, how are we to respond?

I believe the best way to handle things like this is to recognize while we can’t do everything, nor likely even anything big, we can do something!  And that something we do keeps us engaged.  The fact we are doing something we are able to do, alleviates the frustration that the problem is just overwhelming.  We can learn more, or meet someone we’re helping, and that helps us feel care.  Even if its just a small financial sacrifice, or an occasional gift of our time, it keeps us involved.  When we can’t stop to talk with that panhandler because we’re driving and its not safe, we can still offer a prayer for his wellbeing.  It keeps us from being indifferent.

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What Socialism Does to Hospitals

September 22, 2009

In all the healthcare debates, my prayer is that whatever we end up with, we will have something that glorifies God in our treatment of His children.  All humans need to be treated with respect as God’s much loved children.  They need kindness, dignity, compassion, and to be served with excellence.  In America I have volunteered and worked in several nonprofit hospitals.  Most of them were faith based organizations.  I saw a lot of people get first rate, compassionate care, and I know they never paid a cent for their care.  Thats how non-profit hospitals work.  They charge for the care they provide, but at the end of the day those who have no insurance or inadequate insurance end up paying according to what they can afford.  Many times that is nothing.  The hospitals write off the difference as part of their non-profit status.  What keeps them in business is the full pay patients who either have “good” insurance or pay a portion of their bills themselves because they can afford to do so.  What is likely to happen if we have a single payer system like England had for years, is these hospitals will be driven out of business and taken over by the government.  If they are government run, everything will be done with cost savings in mind.  And thats what is wrong with socialized healthcare, such as I lived with for years.  The care given is the minimum mandated by the national government.  The care is not based on values of love, compassion, kindness, dignity and respect, but on budgets and mandates. 

In this country some non-profit healthcare institutions rely on large donations for some of their revenue.   In a socialized system, the high, high taxes leave much less left over for donation.  After having more than half one’s income paid out in taxes, people tend to be in a less generous mood, even if they can still afford some additional generosity.  And lastly, since things are run by a government bureaucracy, its all about the good of the masses, not the good of the individual.  Read about the debates in England right now.  Doctors are being encouraged to consider first the good of society over the good of their patients.

Whereas some insurance companies treat people like statistics, at least the hospitals have maintained the ability to be more personal.  A good bit of that is lost if the hospital is a government hospital.  There is always a lot more mandate than money, and the stresses on the hospital show in the treatment of patients.  So, whatever the United States decides it wants to do, my prayer is the outcome will be something pleasing to our Heavenly Father, who is so concerned for persons, He knows the number of hairs on our heads and every tear we shed.  May we as a society be compassionate and kind, not a further coarsened culture.

Where is Culture in America?

January 28, 2009

There has been a lot of talk lately about the demise of the arts in this economic downturn.  People are concerned that the arts thrive only when there is plenty of money to support them.  And I wondered if that is true.   Many people have bemoaned the downturn of really good art, music and literature in the last 50 or 60 years in America.  The thinking of some philosophers is that art is borne out of struggle, passion, longing, love and compassion.  They argue that in a society where instant gratification reigns supreme, there is a dearth of all of the above.  Who can know real passion, love and longing when sex is readily and instantaneously available?  This is, of course, the cheap, tawdry version, where people use each other with little feeling other than the gratification of the moment.  How can such a situation ever allow for real feelings of love and longing to occur.  Can such a person ever fall in love?  How can you be in love with someone so cheaply available?  Can this be true in other areas of life as well?  How can anyone who has never struggled feel compassion?  How can someone whose every waking moment is filled with easy sensual gratification ever seek the beautiful and the transcendent?  How can a soul who is sated with cheap junk ever know longing for something deeper, more beautiful, more costly?   In this sense, perhaps a life containing more struggle and longing, will prompt people to the love, passion and desire for the truly beautiful, that leads to great art.  Great art, literature and music never came easily.  It was never cheap.  It reflects experience that has been a costly struggle culminating in the final triumph which is beautiful.