Sunday, October 3, 2021

Sympathy Versus Compassion

Here's a picture from the half marathon on the High Bridge Trail that I forgot to include in my report yesterday. 

As you can see, my camera wasn't working optimally so the picture is blurred. But I think you can see that I'm at an aid station and these two volunteers are standing there with giant smiles on their face. I have often said: We runners are a community. Which reminds me of the difference between "sympathy" and "compassion." They are not the same thing. Sympathy costs nothing. Compassion costs much. To put it another way: Sympathy is the thought; compassion is the deed

It doesn't cost anything to pity runners: "Oh my, look at how hard they work. How in the world do they do it? Bless their hearts!" But to stand out on a race course for hours and hours delivering water and Gatorade -- that involves a sacrifice of time and effort. In Ethiopia, Becky and I would often come across an organization that worked in the same villages we worked in. It was called Compassion International. I'm not sure where they got their name but my guess is it was from the Scriptures. Again and again in the New Testament we read of Christ's compassion. The words "he had compassion on them" often preceded a healing miracle. Compassion wasn't just a feeling for Jesus; it was what motivated him to act. I don't volunteer in races a ton but I want to do more of that in the years ahead. As a runner, it's invaluable not to be on the receiving end all the time. 

No race is complete without learning some lessons for next time. I'm still processing the day, but here are two takeaways: Always say "thank you" to every volunteer you meet on the course, and sign up to volunteer at a race at least once a year. 

Racing can't always be about you.