"Fact: we as a society are slowly, but assuredly losing our God-given compassion. We are rarely ‘us.’ Rather, we see ‘them.’"
So, there’s an illustration that people often use. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard it before. It’s referred to as the “Boiling Frog Fable.” The story basically goes like this: a frog is placed in a pot of cool water. In time, the pot of water is eventually heated to boil. However, because the boiling process isn’t instant, and the frog is by nature able to adapt to very harsh climates, the boil is told to go unnoticed. And as a result, the frog is alleged to willingly remain in the water, and without knowing, eventually die amidst the boiling.
Now, while many have heard and even used this story, it is important for you to know that researchers have proven that the reliability of this tale is very low. In fact, it is recorded that “…in 1995, Douglas Melton, a biologist at Harvard University, said, "If you put a frog in boiling water, it won't jump out. It will die. If you put it in cold water, it will jump before it gets hot—they don't sit still for you."
So, if the story is unreliable, then why am I writing about it? Well, the reasoning for my use of this fable, isn’t based on its reliability; rather, I want to take a look at its intended message. In other words, if this story was a parable of Christ, I’d ask, “what would He want His hearers to gain from it?”
Well, I believe there are many applications you could gain. All of which would commonly detail some aspect of our lives, condition, or society that with time have become more and more negative. As a result of this negativity, we’d also note another applicable finding. That is this – if we do something soon to turn this negativity around, it will undoubtedly become our proverbial boiling water, and subsequently the demise of us, either literally or figuratively.
"In fact, it is recorded that “…in 1995, Douglas Melton, a biologist at Harvard University, said, "If you put a frog in boiling water, it won't jump out. It will die. If you put it in cold water, it will jump before it gets hot—they don't sit still for you."
One of the most relevant areas of our boiling water experience, can be seen clearly in our obvious lack of societal compassion.
In a world where so many around us are struggling with inequality, injustice, feeble healthcare, drug addiction, homelessness, domestic violence, and starvation, you’d wish that the communal aspect of our humanity would kick-in in a greater way. That we’d collectively reason and understand as Dr. King once said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Well, that sounds right, right? I mean, the statement is obviously true. However, as a society, we aren’t reacting or responding in majority agreement with his quote. In other words, instead of becoming more interested in the welfare of others, we are becoming more dismissive, self-centered, and apathetic.
Now, in fairness, I don’t believe that we as a society are totally to blame. Thanks to things like social media and the rapid-fire cycle of 24-hour news, we are constantly bombarded with travesties and turmoil the world over. This constant saturation of our minds, concerning the worst of our world has subconsciously made us more hardhearted. Things that “should” move and touch us internally, have actually impacted us quite the opposite. We’re actually becoming more and more cynical, dismissive, unmoved, and unbothered.
"That we’d collectively reason and understand as Dr. King once said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
We’re losing sight of the fact that these events are real incidents that involve real people, amidst real trauma, with real feelings, and real grief. I’m talking about tangible individuals who prior to their impact, were even themselves caught in the water boil. Don’t believe me? Well, consider this.
You can hear it when they talk. I’ve often heard victims, in the aftermath of their harm say honest things like, “I used to think that this type of stuff happened to other people, I never thought it could happen to me.”
Important question: how does that thinking develop? Well, it happens when we lose sight of this simple truth: If it can happen to people, I can happen to any of us. Because we’re all people. Therefore, if it happened to you, I’d pray to respond as I’d desire you to respond to me. For you see, that simple decision is the core of compassion.
"We’re losing sight of the fact that these events are real incidents that involve real people, amidst real trauma, with real feelings, and real grief."
Angela Miller pinned an article that was published on www.stillstandingmag.com entitled “It Could Never Happen to Me” (click here for the article.) In this article, she took on the tough task of speaking to parents who had lost their children in death. In the midst of the article, she revealed how the loss of compassion or the boiling water narrative, had impacted their grief process. She shares the following powerful truth:
“The truth is, what happened to me and what happened to you, could happen to anyone, at any time. Yes. A terrifying and sobering truth. No one is immune to tragedy. As every bereaved parent knows, it could happen to anyone, no matter who you are, what zip code you live in, or how well you think you’ve done everything within your power to prevent all tragedies from touching you. Unfortunately, when people go to any lengths to believe it could never happen to them, what generally happens is the person who should be offering comfort and care, instead offers some kind of ridiculous, non-comforting and often hurtful statement to a grieving parent.”
Fact: we as a society are slowly, but assuredly losing our God-given compassion. We are rarely ‘us.’ Rather, we see ‘them.’ We see nations versus nations, race versus race, men versus women, rich versus the poor, Republicans versus Democrats, victims versus victim blamers, and on and on.
Fact: God isn’t surprised at our behavior. In fact, He all told us that we’d be here. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, “(1) But know this, that in the last days perilous (or dangerous) times will come: (2) For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, (3) unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, (4) traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, (5) having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”(NKJV)
FULL DISCLOSURE: Christ had compassion for all, and if I’m honest, the imitation of his compassion, is a calling that’s tough to meet. Still, I’m trusting God; I’m constantly asking Him to transform my heart and mind, so that I become more and more like Him. I’m praying that God will continue to mold me as He is, empowering me with a great love for all people. Moving me towards a compassion for others, at least similar to the compassion that He wonderfully and lovingly had (and has) for me.
Let’s pray today to decrease the heat of our society’s boil, by becoming people of cooling compassion.
So, what are your thoughts? Was this helpful? What's your perspective on compassion? Please comment below and let me know. Agree? Disagree? I want to hear from you. Blessings.
Kevin D. Jones, Sr.
Kevin D. Jones, Sr.