With the greatest heartfelt compassion, all of us at POE “suffer together” along with the rest of our nation as we grieve for the families, the relatives and close friends of the young men whose lives came to such an abrupt end in the bus accident last week. The essence of compassion is the sincere desire to take action to help the families get through their pain which we cannot really even begin to comprehend. The question is always how can we help more and the answer is, that unless we are very close personally to the families, usually our actions consist of surrounding them with prayer, words of love and encouragement, financial support, and sharing our respect through gatherings as we are today.
However, there is more we can do. Think long term not just short term in response to this horrendous tragedy. Think of the love and caring and pain all of you and the whole nation is feeling for all of these families and their boys which is so important at this time. My question to all of us, as players, coaches, staff, and as an Academy is, why can’t we demonstrate the same kind of compassion and caring every day to our teammates, each other, and everyone we come in contact with for the rest of our lives? Obviously, our daily encounters are not in any way a comparison to the losses and pain these families are going through. However, if our players, who have shown so much compassion and caring for these families, tomorrow go back to the rink, go back to bullying some of their teammates, or being disrespectful to some of their teachers, their siblings or parents. If we as coaches and staff don’t demonstrate to our parents and players the compassion and understanding and positive discipline our young players need in order to develop character and self worth, then we and the world remain the same, nothing really has changed.
God has given everyone of us the innate capacity to experience compassion and empathy for our fellow human beings, as is clearly evident through being touched by the Humboldt tragedy. But in terms of our day to day lives and interactions with others, this capacity to care gets diminished or hardened primarily because we are selfish and have large egos. Everyone has their own experience but to be blunt and honest, the only way I have ever in my life found the strength to change my heart (and believe me I am still along way away from being the person God wants me to be) is through developing a relationship with Christ. I am not pushing my faith on anyone. I am trying to be honest. But if you are like me, we are weak human beings who need a strength outside ourselves in order not only to become caring, empathetic, and compassionate, but also in order to face the challenges and difficulties we all face throughout our life time. There has never been, in the history of mankind, a person that has walked this earth who was more selfless, humble, and compassionate than Jesus Christ.
So, as we move forward from today and look to the future, I am saying to all of us at POE, players, parents, coaches and staff, we cannot be the same tomorrow. However, you derive your strength to change, to exercise your capacity of compassion and caring for others, to become more selfless and humble, it has to been done and often that is not easy in our world of hockey.
Hopefully, in addition to what we have tried to do as individuals and as an Academy, the inspiration of the lives of these amazing young men and their families will live on at least in a small way through the changes we make in our own lives and in the Academy to become more caring and compassion to those in our hockey community and in the world around us, and to ensure our players have the opportunity to develop a faith that will provide the strength and peace to get them through the challenges they will face in life.