What Is Compassion?

Our local news did a story not long ago about a baby who needed a heart transplant. One of the channels, which teeters toward the sensational, showed Baby Andrew’s picture and posted a video of him laboring to breathe.  As I viewed the tubes crawling from every tiny place imaginable, I turned away in anger. What kind of life are these parents so desperate for Baby Andrew (and small fighters like him) to have? He will be dependent his entire life, not to mention in and out of hospitals. Andrew may not fully understand what all the fuss is about now. He’ll know that he has a bad heart, but as he sits inside, for most of his life, and watches children play or athletes practice, as he is reminded by someone to take his 20 medications, as he lives in fear at every new pain, as he battles other health problems caused by medications, as he undergoes more surgery, maybe he’ll become a little angry too.

So what is compassion? Is compassion forcing a child to live and beseeching others to give so that their child can have a chance at “life” or is it allowing the child to naturally go and be with God? This particular story has a happy ending because Andrew got a new heart. It is a happy ending for his parents, but is it a happy one for Andrew?