Friday, February 23, 2018
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The world has seen the worst of human nature. The wars and savagery that history has witnessed reflect the darkest side of evil. It has, fortunately, also been blessed by tales of exemplary valour and compassion.

Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820 at Florence in Italy. It was fashionable in those days to name children after their place of birth, so that, although Florence was until then always understood to be a man’s name, it was given to this future reformer in whose memory so many women have since worn it with pride and honour. Her parents were wealthy, well connected, and associated with the leaders in society and politics of that time.
The year 1850 saw a revolt that is unrecorded in the published annals of history. It was the disturbance within the heart of a young woman who revolted against the futility and fatuity of the social life that imprisoned her. Florence Nightingale’s soul became obsessed with an innate impulse to exchange her apparently useless existence of idle wealth, with a life devoted to the service of humankind. She decided to alleviate the suffering of the sick. She also thereby successfully established a system that, by its adaptation, created and has maintained at so high a standing the honourable profession of nursing, and which has bestowed on her name a cherished and loving immortality.

Mother Teresa needs no introduction. Her story of selfless sacrifice for those who were shunned by society and abandoned by their own families led to her being the recipient of the Nobel Prize. She wept with humility at that unwanted fame. Her mission in life was not to win prizes. It was to give, to part with the innumerable bits of loving compassion that comprised her very being. After her death, the Pope declared her a saint. She would not have wanted this title either. She shared the bounty of her large hearted sympathy with those who wallowed in the dark depths of lonely despair. Genuine compassion is a benign infection. Her efforts to alleviate the suffering of the miserable, the poor and the orphaned, inspired a movement known the world over as The Missionaries of Charity. Today, Mother Teresa is no longer in the temporal world. But she will never die. Her work will remain, carried forward by other selfless people who inherited her mantle of charitable effort. She must truly be at peace, united with her Creator, knowing that whenever a hand flounders in helpless desperation on God’s earth, her sisters are there to support and console.

In the play “the Merchant of Venice” Shakespeare has extolled the virtue of compassion in the following speech by Portia:
“The quality of mercy is not strain’d;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven……..
It becomes the throned monarch better than his crown;
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above the scepter’d sway,--
It is enthroned in the heart of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.

Compassion is a congenital blessing. A child harbours no ill-will towards anyone. Exposure to the unkind aspects of worldly living sadly scar and erode this emotion.

There is an interesting true story which reflects the truth of the dictum that whatever you do goes around and, after completing a cycle in time, comes back around.

There was a poor Scottish farmer named Fleming. One day, while
trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming froma nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog.
There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.
The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman's sparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved."I want to repay you," said the nobleman. "You saved my son's life." "No, I can't accept payment for what I did," the Scottish farmer replied,waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer's own son came to the door of the family hovel. "Is that your son?" the nobleman asked. "Yes," the farmer replied proudly.
"I'll make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education my son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his father, he'll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of."
And that he did. Farmer Fleming's son attended the very best schools and in time, he graduated from St. Mary's
Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the man who discovered Penicillin.
Years afterward, the same nobleman's son who was saved from the bog was stricken with pneumonia. What saved his life this time? Penicillin. The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill. His son's name? Sir Winston Churchill.

We are unaware of the extent to which beliefs in re-incarnation are true. Their veracity is necessarily vulnerable to a test of a time that is beyond the realms of the empirical. Nobody has yet returned from the cradle of mortality to confirm what happens after we die. However, this thought need not depress one. Instead, it should spur one to make the most of what we have in this life. We live only once; but, if we live correctly and virtuously, once is enough.

Work like you don't need the money.
Love like you've never been hurt.
Dance like nobody's watching.
Sing like nobody's listening.
Live like it's Heaven on Earth.


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