About a month ago I gave a lesson in Relief Society on Unity. This is a huge subject and I decided to devote the lesson to what I think are some important components of unity, mainly deferring judgement and practicing compassion.
While I was doing my research and preparing for the lesson I happened upon this episode of Brain Games. On a side note - it seems like whenever I am preparing for a lesson I have experiences or I find that inspiration seems to come from so many different directions that correlate with my subject. I'm sure this happens to many other people as well... I just think it's pretty cool. Anyway, we had the TV tuned to the National Geographic Channel which was running a "Brain Games" marathon. This show is AWESOME! It's one of those shows that the entire family can watch and it is fascinating. This particular episode was entitled "compassion" and how it works in our brains. We are physiologically wired for compassion and for those who aren't (there is always an exception to the rule, right?) compassion can be practiced and strengthened - like a muscle.
Here is the link: braingames.nationalgeographic.com - I bought it on Amazon Instant Video for about $2.99 and it was worth it.
WATCH THE VIDEO! It's 21 minutes long and I highly recommend watching it.
Or you can skip ahead to my favorite part which begins at 14:58 through the end of the video. If you don't feel like watching it, you probably won't understand what the heck I am talking about.
In this part of the episode an experiment is conducted using three different hot sauces - mild, medium, and death. First of all the volunteer checks in at the front desk. Then the volunteer is greeted by a scientist (an actor) who explains that they must choose which hot sauce to give the test subject (who is an actor as well) in the other room behind the one way mirror. The test subject (actor) has to eat a bowl of chili with the hot sauce. The experiment is conducted in three ways. In the first experiment the volunteer just walks into the room, is presented with the hot sauces and chooses which one to give to the test subject.
The second version has the volunteer checking in a the front desk and then is rudely bumped into by someone on their phone. When they go into the room and sit down with the scientist they realize that the person on the other side of the one way mirror is the jerk that bumped into them at the front desk. Let's just say that vengeance is swift and the hot sauce labeled "death" gets a lot of use.
In the third version the same thing happens at check in - the jerk (the actor) rudely bumps into the individuals as they make their way in. BUT the scientist, instead of just giving them the low down on what to do, exercises kind towards the volunteer. The scientist asks them how they are doing, makes a kind comment about their way of dress, name, etc, and offers them some water. The fascinating part is how they react. Instead of giving "death" to the test subject, a lot of them chose "medium" and some chose "mild". COMPASSION IS CONTAGIOUS!!
When we discussed this in Relief Society the first comments were about how Christ is like the scientist (in the third example) and helps us to practice compassion. And then we moved on to how we can be like the scientist ourselves and practice compassion towards others, without even knowing what their situation is - merely taking individuals AS THEY ARE and practice compassion towards them. This in turn elevates the individual receiving the compassion.
It was a fun lesson to teach and I am not done with this subject. I plan on writing more, because it is my favorite topic to study right now.
If you have more time to spend (because we all have a limitless supply, right?) here is an essay that I found on line that I love!! Chabad Essay on Compassion.
In the meantime - have compassion on me and my rough blogging skills. I'm slowly learning this skill with all that spare time I have with 4 kids (one of them is a feisty, busy toddler who can understand English very well but chooses not to acknowledge it), home, church job, meal prepping, online study etc.