Many years ago, I joined some friends to create a summer camp for underprivileged youth in Kishinev, Moldova (formerly part of the U.S.S.R.).
For the first few weeks and until I sufficiently acclimated, there was obviously a considerable language barrier which I knew I’d have to overcome in order to reach these children.
One day during the first week of summer, we were on a hike in the woods when one of the kids took a bad fall and got a cut over his eye. He came running to me and was telling me what happened (in Russian) in-between his tears. Honestly, I couldn’t understand a word he said, but it made no difference because I ‘deciphered’ just by looking and knew that what he needed wasn’t dependent upon my understanding of the language itself.
I bent down and enveloped him in a hug and with this he was reassured that he’d be ok.
Some things are universally understood by all. There are things in life which transcend all barriers of language, grammar, syntax, colloquialism, cultural diversity, religious affiliation and the like.
One such mainstay is the ‘language’ of COMPASSION.
To be compassionate, doesn’t require a specific affiliation and is never fettered by the constraints of affiliation.Everyone has a mandate to be compassionate and everyone understands compassion.
Nowhere is Compassion on display more than at the Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers in New Jersey.
I toured the other day with a Chinese family who is considering placement for an elderly parent. They were concerned as to whether we’d be able to sufficiently care for their loved one given the language barrier which will surely exist between the resident who does not speak English and many of our staff.
It is a fair point and I was caught off guard for a moment. Then I remembered something my Dad taught me. My Dad is a brilliant man and holds a Ph.D. in Physiology (specifically in the area of REM sleep). He utilized this concept many times in his research.
He often says “when in doubt, point to the obvious.”
So I asked the family to tell me what their greatest fear is in placing their loved one into a Nursing Home.
I said to them; let me answer the question for you.
You are afraid of neglect. You are afraid of indifference. You are afraid of isolation.
I quickly walked out into the hallway and pointed into our beautiful dining room where our residents were eating lunch. I asked the family to tell me what they saw.What they noted was the beaming and happy faces of our residents (and staff).
I pointed out that here you have people of diverse cultures and backgrounds and yet they are ALL smiling.
Do you know why, I asked?
This is because the language we speak here at Regency is the language of COMPASSION.
This language is universally spoken and universally understood and I promise you (I told them) we do speak your language!