Friday, August 26, 2011

Practical Compassion

During the past few weeks St. Paul's members have been contributing to the United Church effort to address the famine in Somalia. Our denomination has partners in Somalia to help us get the food aid to those who need it.

I have been pleasantly surprised to see the total given by our member creep up toward $4,000, probably the most generous response to a humanitarian appeal since I have been here, at least through the congregation.

It's interesting that while it has become much easier to contribute to causes by phone or the internet, this situation has not motivated the generosity of Canadians. Some may be concerned that the food won't get to the hungry, but I figure it is a risk worth taking. I'm also intrigued by the notion of compassion fatigue. I figure we have given about $1,000 in total to several appeals during the past few years. In the overall picture of our income and what we spend on our pleasures it is peanuts. How could I be fatigued?

A newcomer to our congregation, a young woman without a Christian background, told me that one of the positives of coming to church is being encouraged to practical compassion by those around her in the community of faith. Maybe it's easier to give from the comfort of our homes, and maybe its easier not to give when we don't gather with others to hear that encouragement.

What is your perspective?


IanD said...

We discussed this a while back, but I think that compassion fatigue is a side effect of people's pocketbooks feeling pinched. The rising prices of staples like groceries and gas tend to make people cling to that last dime.

Add into this the sheer number of worth causes that bombard us with internet pop-ups, mailouts, marathons, walks, runs, rides, etc. ... I really do think that 'fatigue' is an apt descriptor in this case.

lionlamb said...

I wonder if compassion wariness is closer than compassion fatigue. You're right Ian, we are bombarded with requests. I figure it makes sense to have a plan for generosity with the option of responding to unusual circumstances. Thanks.