Have you ever been able to use your personal experience to encourage someone else? Sometimes the most compassionate friend is the one who knows exactly what it feels like to go through a situation. This year a photo of two elementary school friends caught the country’s attention—and maybe we can learn a few things from their example.
Watch the following video with your class and then discuss the questions that follow [2:20]:
“Photo of 8 Year-Old Boy Helping Classmate With Autism Goes Viral”
- Why is it more touching to see compassion coming from a classmate as opposed to, say, a teacher? (Teachers are naturally trained to assist students who are in need, but a classmate who reaches out might be more effective since he or she knows what it feels like to be in that situation.)
- Does your school have a program such as peer counseling? What is the philosophy behind these kinds of programs? (Professionals are extremely important when it comes to assisting someone in need. However, peers can give an empathetic perspective that an adult might not have.)
- What is the difference between sympathy and empathy? Why is the distinction important? (Both words come from the root PATH, meaning “feeling.” Sympathy involves feeling pity toward someone’s pain, while empathy involves a higher level of relatability and shared personal experience.)
- Have you ever been able to listen to someone with deeper empathy because of what you’ve been through? (Allow students to pair up and talk briefly about their experiences.)
Sometimes when we pray, we can feel like we’re praying to a distant, abstract entity. Yet because He came to earth and shared in our human suffering, temptations, and physical pain, He is a Savior who is more than a cosmic Deity. He understands our struggles and has compassion on us.