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Written by Eugene
There is one little known story from my childhood that vividly illustrates the value of compassion. I was about twelve years old riding in the back seat of my father's station wagon on one of our long trips home to Valley Stream from Stony Brook. I don't remember why I was alone except for my parents, but I was. This provided me the opportunity for some standard adolescent mischievousness.

There was a bag on the floor, which contained some documents from a recent Marriage Encounter retreat weekend my parents had attended. I knew I should not have, but my curiosity got the best of me, and I began to peruse the papers. I came across an exercise that my father had completed. The objective was to list all of your children and jot down the most memorable experience you had of them.

Of course, I jumped right to my name and I was quite pleased to see that my father had simply written down something about fishing with me. That meant a lot to me as I also deeply cherished those memories.

But this was not the entry that made the biggest impact on me. After glancing through the other entries, I came across the name of my brother, Robert. My father went on to write about the time that Robert had caused a serious fire in their home on Brooklyn Avenue while playing with matches. He noted that he did not punish him for this act. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the fire caused great damage to the house and much of their possessions. This must have been very difficult for my father, who worked very hard for, and cherished, his home. He wrote in this paper; however, about how he knew that Robert had suffered enough by the incident already, and that no further punishment was necessary. Instead he embraced and consoled his son.

Even as a young man I was moved to tears in reading this small note. That feeling of ultimate compassion has remained within me. It is these seemingly insignificant acts that help define who we are.

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Fire in Flatbush home
Fireman fighting the fire at 1128 Brooklyn Ave.
-- 1959 --

The same block 50 years later