A Story About Compassion

How do we change the world?

“Be the change you want to see in the world”

Mahatma Gandhi

You’re about to read one of my favourite childhood stories. It’s short but powerful. And then I’ll tell you a few words about how we can change the world (as if Gandhi’s quote is not clear enough

So the story goes like that…

Once upon a time in a small village behind a mountain lived a man. He lost his wife early in life and all he had left was his one son. The boy grew up and married a good woman he loved.

After the wedding the young family settled to live in the family house together with the father. They soon had a son of their own and soon after that another. They lived happily and in peace but the home started getting too crowded and small for the family.

The old man was getting ill and expensive, he couldn’t bring wood for the fire anymore or sell the fruits of the farming land at the markets. He was always around and the young wife slowly started resenting him.

After a few months the young wife couldn’t bear living around, cleaning and feeding the old man anymore. She said to her husband:

“Either he goes, or I go and take my boys with me!”

The son’s heart became heavy with the burden of the choice. He turned restless in bed long after his wife was sleeping calm and deep. Days passed and he couldn’t look neither his father, nor his wife in the eye.

One morning he told to his older son and father:

“Let’s go collect some wood from the further side of the forest. I can’t go alone, come with me both. The wood on this side is wet and won’t burn. Take your walking stick, father, or you can’t make it that far.”

The old men and boy prepared vigorously and the three of them left on the path to the forest. At the door the man kissed his wife and promised his father won’t come back with them.

They reached the far end of the forest and sat on the green grass to eat some lunch. The old men was so exhausted he fell asleep within seconds.

“Get up, my son, we go back now.”

“Yes, father, I’ll wake up grandfather.”

“Don’t wake him, let him sleep. We can get wood closer to home, no need to carry it from here.”

“But is he going to find the way back home? He will wonder where we went…”

“Your grandfather is an old man now, he needn’t come back with us. We can leave him here, he isn’t needed anymore,” answered the young man with a heavy heart and the image of his happy wife in his mind.

Father and son hadn’t even lost the old man from sight when the boy suddenly ran back. Before the father could say anything the boy came back carrying his grandfather’s walking stick.

“We don’t need this anymore, son. Leave it with the old men.”

“No, now we don’t need it, father but when you get old and we don’t need you anymore, I don’t want to have to carry you all the way here.

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I will give you this walking stick so you can walk yourself till this side of the forest.”

A tear dropped from the man’s eye. Then another. He took the walking stick from his son’s hands and ran back to his father to wake him.

They slowly walked back home and once the man told what happened to his wife they both agreed that the old man should stay with them. From this day on the old man was honoured, loved and cherished until his time came to leave this world.”

This is a classic story that children in Bulgaria listen to before going to bed. After a bit of research I found out that a similar one is told all over the world.

But why?

Why do I chose this story to be my story about compassion and why is it important?

Compassion is not only about seeing someone in suffering and helping them or feeling sorry for them. It is about knowing that every creature, every person, everything is YOU.

In Bulgaria, it’s very common to scare children off that if they make fun of a disabled person the same is going to happen to them.

In fact, if you’re compassionate, you can easily see that it’s already happening to you.

There is nothing that isn’t you.

Every person is you. Maybe not now but in another time, in another place. That’s you again.

Compassion means learning to love yourself whatever happens.

And we learn best by doing, don’t we? When we do acts of compassion to others regularly, we learn to love ourselves and the world a little more.

I can’t imagine a better way to change the world but by showing compassion to yourself in every form you are in the world. The sad you, the selfish you, the poor you, the angry you, the happy you, the beautiful you, the proud you, the lazy you, the good and the bad, the giving, loving and attention seeking you.

As the father changed forever how his son perceives older age and elderly people, in the same way you and I change the world a little every time we take a decision how to act.

Is compassion something you want to teach others?

Every time you decide to be compassionate or not, you change the world a little bit. And you change yourself into a better human being.

“Little drops of water make the mighty ocean.”

Today I very much enjoyed posting some words belonging to the ones wiser than me — proverbs, stories, quotes….

Sharing is caring after all

So if you like this story and you want to live in a more compassionate world, share off with your friends and family and let’s start doing what we want to be done upon us.


  1. I’m touched by this story!! It will help me in my preaching about compassion.

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