10 Oct Fighting Compassion Fatigue
Some years ago I wrote about compassion fatigue and the dangers that it brings to all of us especially after the devastation we have seen the past few weeks in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Irma.
We are all moved; as well we should be by the photos, news reports, interviews, and social media posts that bring us closer to the tragic events than ever before.
We want to do something to help, we mobilize, start collection drives, and post our sentiments on our Facebook page and twitter accounts. The images are right in front of us and for a time they are almost impossible to ignore.
Our hearts are moved but in our culture of sound bites, drive-thrus, and hundreds of television stations, many of us find it easy to watch for a while, help where we can, and move on as soon as our interest wanes or the media coverage turns to a more current or interesting subject.
Even the best and most compassionate of us face the dangers of being desensitized to so much we see.
It is only natural, I suppose, to want to find a way to shut off this onslaught of misfortune that comes into our homes on a daily basis. We may tend to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye after awhile to give our minds and spirits a rest. We all need a respite not only from the demands on our daily lives, the demands that others place on us, and the burdens we share for those that we see on television.
But there are those who also desperately need a respite, and no matter how hard they try, continue not to be able to find one. So many of the families we come into contact with face these challenges every waking hour without a chance to put aside their cares for more than a fleeting moment. Those that need it most have little or no reprieve.
Hunger doesn’t end with the end of the Christmas season. Children need glasses and school supplies all year long, not just when school begins. The need for help with medication doesn’t come for so many we serve only once or twice a year. The day of caring should encompass our entire life, not just one day.
It is indeed difficult for all of us to always continue to reach out to those in need with all the needs presented to us, but it is certainly more difficult for a great number of families to muster the courage to get out of their car and walk in the door and ask for help, not knowing if their electricity will be on when they return home, if they will have food for their family that night, or if they can get their prescriptions to help make them well.
We can’t afford the luxury of giving in to compassion fatigue; if not only for the reasons that so many who are less fortunate can’t. There is nothing insignificant, no matter how small we may think it is, that is done for those in times of need.
They are the true heroes who show tremendous courage every minute of their lives just by getting up each morning, and moving forward to provide for their families against what at times seem like insurmountable odds.
To all those who serve those in need in any capacity, thank you all for your time, ideas, heart, compassion, and sacrifice. Please know the lives you touch cannot have been touched by anyone else and our lives are as touched as much if not more by those we have the privilege of serving as they are by us.