2005 Introduction – Written by Elizabeth Share
There is no limit to the amount
of good a person can do,
if they don’t care who gets the credit.
By honoring individuals who give to others, Wisdom in Action acknowledges that
all acts of compassion make an important difference to the world. They allow us
to express our spirituality, honor our highest nature and dispel suffering. They
enable us to experience the disenfranchised as our teachers, and to learn that in helping
them, we nourish our own hearts and spirits. Finally, they remind us that acts of kindness
must never be hindered by fear or complacency — that there is no need to wait even a
moment to heal one another and our world.
Although the Unsung Heroes of Compassion written about in this book come from
many countries and work with widely different constituencies, they have much in common:
All are reticent to accept personal honors. They would rather turn the spotlight from
themselves to those in need and those who work alongside them. They also share a deeply
held belief that compassionate work is its own reward. Finally, they are driven by a remarkable
sense of purpose and devotion — one that seems increasingly rare in modern society.
Though we are seldom privileged to hear their stories, unsung heroes of compassion
abound throughout the world. Recognizing our interdependence, they cross borders
without hesitation, seeking always to be where they may serve the greatest need.
They are the fabric of every endeavor aimed at alleviating suffering and ending violence.
Each emphasizes the impossibility of working alone and the joyous fulfillment of giving
without expectation of return. In fact, upon hearing of this tribute, more than one honoree
said, “I cannot believe what I do qualifies an honor. What I receive each day far exceeds
what I give.”
Today’s Heroes would be the last to seek the spotlight, but since they have it, they wish
to convey a heartfelt message to you: On their behalf, we invite you to renew your own
commitment to compassionate action and trust that it is in your power to create joy. In the
words of one, and echoed by the actions of all: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always
possible to be kind.”