A few years ago, my niece Michelle sat on the couch crying. She just received word that good friends had been in a serious auto accident, hit head-on by a drunk driver. Her 3-year old son, Tyler, climbed into her lap, put his arm around her saying, “It’ll be ok, mom, I’m here.”
As our children grow, our hopeful prayer is they will be people of compassion, responding to others’ needs.
What is our role as teachers and leaders in that? Especially in today’s world, when they (we) seem to be surrounded by tragedies, is this a particular learning time? Is it calling us to a deeper formation of conscience that we are one Body in which we all have a responsibility of nurturing?
A teacher was showing children pictures of the earth from space. “Oh! We draw the lines.”
"What do you mean?” asked the teacher.
“Look at the pictures. No lines. Look at the globe and our maps. Lines. We draw the lines. We’re really one; nothing is separating us.”
How do we form our consciences? Let us look at just one of the many ways. Most researchers agree that the first moral feeling is empathy. The ability to feel another’s suffering - or happiness - is the foundation of virtue. Moral judgments are affective judgments. They’re basically not only from our head, but from our gut.
We have feelings because we have convictions. We have convictions because of the experiences we’ve had. Thus, the implications for faith formation are: what kinds of experiences do we need so that our moral, caring, compassionate sensibilities will grow?
Some things that leaders can do:
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