If racism is ever to be defeated, these qualities – giving back, having compassion for others, caring about other people – will have a lot to do with it. Racism can be defeated with love and compassion, and these exact virtues are being practiced every day.
One of those small and individual actions undertaken to help those suffering from illness is the crocheting done by former psychiatric nurse Rita Patt. She crochets lap warmers for patients at Monroe Community Hospital in Rochester, New York. She also makes prayer shawls for parishioners at St. Jerome's Church in East Rochester. The shawls are donated to cancer patients in the parish and also to hospitals in the area.
Patt is one of those people determined to "give back." Refusing to waste time by watching TV in the evenings when she could be doing something useful for someone, Patt decided to let her fingers do the "talking", in a manner of speaking. The talking, of course, translates what is in her heart to recipients of her talents. As a nurse and the stepmother of two cancer survivors, Patt understand how little things can refresh – as Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran asserts: "For in the dew of little things, the heart finds its morning and is refreshed."
One organization that has responded to the challenge of helping others is Rotary International, which listened when Bill Gates said: "If we all have the fortitude to see this effort through to the end, then we will eradicate polio." Rotary members worldwide are on a mission to eliminate polio once and for all. Their efforts illustrate how charitable endeavors can change the lives of people throughout the globe – whether those efforts are small and individual or grand and organizational in nature.
The discoverer of the polio vaccine, Dr. Jonas Salk, was once asked how he came upon his discovery. He replied, "I learned to think the way nature thinks." If each of us can learn to think the way Rotarians and Rita Patt think, we can lessen the suffering "at home" and around the world – whether individually or collectively.
Racism cannot survive in an atmosphere of charity and compassion for others.