“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” – Matthew 5:9

This past summer, I spent one beautiful, warm evening canoeing with my sister and a group from 13Thirty Cancer Connect on Canadice Lake. We learned a little about teamwork as we steered the boats around the water, enjoying the peaceful stillness in the lack of technology and city noise.

Our guide was a fascinating gentleman who owned an outdoor adventure business and traveled the world. As the evening was winding down, we had all pulled our canoes together in the middle of lake, and he was telling us a story from his recent trip to Mongolia. The idea of 13668897_10100125165185463_3233014408182058411_o“compassion as a lifestyle”- that the Mongolians help one another and serve one another daily, never asking for “please” or “thank you” – in fact, they don’t even have those words in their vocabulary- because it’s simply a way of life for them. If you see a need, you lend a hand without question.

Living a life of compassion in order to SURVIVE.

I’ve thought a lot about that story over the recent months, and especially during the tumultuous election we just had as a country. The riots and protesting, the greed, the hate speech from candidates trying to outdo one another to be the face of the currently most powerful country in the world, the division between families and friends, the way God’s name was dragged into everyone’s arguments for or against the candidates…

It was ugly. It’s still ugly. Between social media dictating our society as a whole (both young and old) and an entire generation growing up to be selfish, self-absorbed, and desensitized through an onslaught of images, media consumption, and a psychologically-driven need for more followers, likes, and views or else spiraling into depression over unattained “success” and “popularity”…

All I can think of is the story of the Mongolians reaching out to one another, sometimes without ever even knowing the person’s name. Without asking for justification as to whether or not they should help a stranger and his horse cross the river safely- even if he was American, and so far outside of their culture. Accepting the extra pair of hands when a nomadic family was packing up their yurt to move on to their next destination.

What if we tried living like that?

When is the last time you helped someone just because? Without the expectation of a “thank you”, without the need to validate yourself?

For the Mongolians, living a lifestyle of compassion is necessary for survival. As the passage in Matthew says, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” I have to believe that compassion, or the lack thereof, will make or break us as well. Compassion isn’t something created by protests or arguments or marches- although I completely agree in TRUE equality, and believe in freedom, and having an uncensored voice that reaches the higher powers that be.

But compassion is putting others before yourself. It’s seeing a need and doing what you can to lessen a burden, right where you are. If we all took care of our families and neighbors in this way- the world would be a much kinder place. It’s human nature to be selfish. But just as God has extended His grace, mercy, and compassion on us, our response in humbled gratefulness should be to show the same to others around us.

Blessed are the peacemakers. Change the world by making a difference right where you are.