The Power of Compassion
In a village in Northern India, poor natural conditions led the villagers to live in poverty. Finding food is a daily struggle. Everyone wants to change the situation but no one knows how.
There is a primitive highway not far from the village. Due to the poor road conditions, cars and trucks often break down there. One day a truck loaded with canned food rolled over into a roadside ditch and the cans scattered everywhere. The driver was injured, so he hitchhiked his way to a hospital and left the canned goods strewn all over the ground. When the villagers found the "free" canned food, they took it home. For several days after the accident, every family had canned food on their dinner tables. This "free fortune" inspired the villagers. As an old saying goes: "One survives on what's available nearby; be it a mountain or a lake." Now the villagers thought they could live off the nearby highway. They began to make frequent trips to the highway, hoping to find another broken down truck loaded with food.
But accidents did not happen as often as they wished. Watching food trucks coming and going, the disappointed villagers did not get anything. One day, someone came up with a clever idea. They went to the road with shovels and hoes at night and dug many pot holes. Soon, more and more cars and trucks broke down there. Because of the poor road, the trucks drove very slowly to avoid accidents. The villagers could then easily follow the trucks and steal some goods.
Gradually, things got worse. In the beginning, they only stole food for their own consumption. Soon they began taking other goods and sold them in the market. Finally, the theft turned into sheer robbery. The road near the village became the most dangerous section of the highway. Every month, the police would receive several reports of robbery. One day, the police arrested two villagers in the act of robbing a truck and sent them to jail.
The arrests did not scare off other villagers. They became more crafty in committing these crimes. They organized themselves and assigned people to watch for the police. After the robberies, they would hide the goods or change the packaging so the police could find no evidence. The local government tried many ways to stop this practice. Because the villagers were getting used to this way of life, the robberies showed no signs of stopping.
During one winter, due to the reputation of the village, many truck drivers avoided passing the village by choosing a detour. As a result, the villagers could not get anything for several days in a row. One day, a truck loaded with phosphate starch passed by. Phosphate starch is for industrial usage and poisonous. The villagers were mostly uneducated, and to them, starch was food that could be cooked in many ways. So they rushed over and took away more than 20 bags.
The young driver stopped the truck and chased after the robbers. The other villagers seized this opportunity and went over to unload all the remaining bags of starch. When the young driver went into the village, he begged the villagers to return the starch. By this time, all the villagers had already hidden the bags and no one admitted to the theft. There was no way the villagers would easily return their loot. The young man's pleas fell on deaf ears. Finally, he told the villagers that the starch was not edible and that it was for industrial usage. People could die if they ate it, so it was useless to the villagers. The driver was telling them the truth, but the villagers did not believe him. After all, the starch looked and felt exactly the same as regular edible starch.
The young man became very scared when the villagers refused to believe him. He wanted to report the incident to the police, but he also worried that someone might eat the starch and die. Although he would not be responsible for anyone's death, he did not want anyone to die for such a foolish mistake. He went door to door to tell people the truth, and he even knelt down and said: "I do not care about the starch even if you refuse to give it back, but the worst case scenario is not my own economic loss. I am begging you not to eat it, otherwise you will die."
Seeing the young man's insistence, some villagers began to doubt themselves. Someone fed the starch to a chicken and the chicken died in a few minutes. The young man was telling the truth! The villagers were shocked, and their hearts were deeply touched. They had stolen this man's goods. The driver should have hated them. Even if they died from the poisonous starch, they certainly would have deserved that fate. But the young man wanted to save their lives so badly that he even begged them on his knees. This kind of love and compassion, this kind of humility made the villagers feel both ashamed and moved.
The villagers "found" the bags of starch and returned them to the truck. From that day on, the people in the village never robbed any more trucks. When someone was tempted, others would say: "Think about the good man. We robbed him, but he saved our lives. Do we still want to do these bad things? Are we really demons?"
Now the road near this village is peaceful again. After all the law enforcement and government persuasion efforts failed, a young driver's compassion changed everything.
People's habits can be changed if we know how to approach them. Compassion can be awakened in others if it is done correctly. There is a thread of compassion in everyone's heart, but the only way to resonate with that thread is through compassion. If we want others to be kind, we have to show them compassion first. No matter how mean the person is, his compassion can be awakened and he can abandon his evil thoughts. We believe everyone has compassion in his or her heart, and if we all are able to show it to others, the world will become a beautiful place.