Compassion, Citizenship and Empathy

The lack of common compassion and understanding in our country is ever more alarming. Between Monday and Friday of last week an angry, alienated man mailed 14 pipe bombs to elected officials and government employees; on Saturday a different angry, alienated man murdered 11 worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue; we awoke to news Friday that Union Temple, in Prospect Heights, was vandalized the previous night.

Several ICS children attended pre-school there, reminding me of John Donne's poem:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee.  

In these troubled times these books that teach empathy are one way in which you can guide your children to be part of a brighter future.

Hosting a visit by a Japanese cultural exchange official on Friday, also gave me hope. We watched a first grade teacher read Lillian's Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 during morning meeting.


After hearing about the 15th amendment, poll taxes, literacy tests, and universal suffrage the children responded. One wrote that he would be "real sad because I had to fight for 83 years to vote like Lilian."

Regardless of the results on Tuesday, we all should consider the advice Atticus Finch gave his daughter in To Kill a Mockingbird:

"First of all," he said, "if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.

May you find, in these books, and in exercising your right to vote on Tuesday, a way to teach your children. So that all of our memories might be for a blessing.