Grace & Compassion

DISCLAIMER:  My two greatest fears:  being homeless and / or being an addict (alcohol or drugs).  The KOMO / ABC documentary THE FIGHT FOR THE SOUL OF SEATTLE  deal with both my fears!  Therefore, if you share the same fears I have, you may want to “walk on by.”  HOWEVER, the documentary does a great job with who is responsible and also some inspiring stories about overcoming being homeless and / or being an addict (alcohol or drugs).  Therefore, I recommend it!  

What is grace?
Merriam-Webster:  NOUN – a.  unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification;  b. a virtue coming from God (my thought:  as it is used in Lois Lowry’s award winning book, THE GIVER, “Mr. Everts – please… use “precise language” in the classroom.  God is not “precise language.”  We say ___________.”)  c. a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance.  (My thought:  another definition “inappropriate” for public schools in the United States of America)

What is Compassion?
Merriam-Webster:  NOUN – sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

I strongly recommend THE FIGHT FOR THE SOUL OF SEATTLE.  I strongly recommend we show it to high school students.  High school is a time where we have four years to help students improve before they leave the “nest.”  

In 31 years of teaching high school music, I have never seen so much help / assistance our district is offering to our students.  The help is THERE!  

The final minute of the documentary inspired me to respond to the teachers and counselors who want to show grace and / or compassion by lowering standards; easing standards. 

As there is a montage of homeless tents, the reporter is saying the following, “And city and the county prosecutors don’t prosecute. And the judges dare not step out of line.  And the tents persist.  Drugs are rampant.  And the business … just give up.  And the city council reimagines and wings it through a sloppy revolution that has brought the best city in America to its knees. 

Let me ask you something.  Fifty years from now.  Or, a hundred when they look back at images like these.  When they see a man like this (on the ground / head on back pack / waving his arms / homeless); when they look at this woman (hunch over; dirty / sticky hair in her face / cross legged / wearing a sky blue NIKE jacket / upper body moving side-to-side).  When they try to grasp what it was that cast this place into such cruel and chaotic circumstances, as to create pictures like these? 

A homeless woman is sitting on the street.  Here legs stretched in front of her.  Crossed.  Upper body moving back and forth.  Clothes dirty.  Missing teeth.  She seems to be talking to herself or possibly, to the seagull that is sharing the sidewalk with her.  As we are looking at this humbling scene, do you think any of them (homeless / addicts / people on the documentary) will whisper to themselves, ‘WOW!  What a compassionate caring people they were here in Seattle? What grace.  What virtuous leadership they had there.  Once upon a time. 

That is the end of the documentary.

What are we (teachers / administrators / adults on campus) doing when we say, “It’s okay not to do your work.  You have too much on your plate.”  Is that grace?  Compassion? 

When we say, “Because you (the student) are having a bad day, it’s okay you told your math teacher, ‘You are an asshole.’”  Is that grace? Compassion? Not for the math teacher.  For sure.  

Folks …  disciplining people for their behavior can be a sign of grace and compassion.  Lowering standards or having little to no expectations because things are rough and tough are great intentions.  NO doubt.  You are good people.  VERY GOOD PEOPLE.  Full of love.  Does this sort of “love” (lowering standards / expectations) do them any good?  Does our society any good?  

Look at what is happening in cities where a district attorney and / or city council make decisions (lower expectations) such as: misdemeanors, which should be declined or dismissed before arraignment, with a number of exceptions at the discretion of the prosecutor.  Among them:  Trespassing, disturbing the peace, driving with no license or a suspended license, making criminal threats, drug possession, drinking in public, loitering to commit prostitution and resisting arrest (my question:  you want to be a police officer when resisting arrest is “okay?”), among others.

I do believe there is something in the human spirit that believes in the “tenet” of quality work and people wanting to show others they can rise to your (the leader) level of expectations! 

If you were to ask the student, “Do you deserve an “A” for doing no work?”  Many students would look at you as if you were a crazy teacher!  The students even know they should be doing work for a higher grade!


I am “just a high school band director.”  I am not a certified clinician / therapist / “doctor” in front of my name.  Yet, I do know that people and water share something:  THEY BOTH RISE TO THE LEVEL OF EXPECTATION.

When we return from our break, we need to return with a sense of Grace is NOT lowering expectations, but making adjustments (the response to COVID 19 has made us make adjustments… I GET IT!!!)  and holding the students accountable to those adjustments.  Compassion is NOT alleviating stress by constantly adjusting or alleviating expectations for our students.  In other words, constantly “grooming the road for the student.”  Again, we are to prepare the student for the road, not the road for the student.  Students are going to get the grade based on their choices.

Our students need us (adults on campus) to be the “bad guy.”  They DO!  There will be times they will “hate” us.  In the end, please do all you do for your students / children from the perspective of LOVE and sometimes, love means discipline.  When you are done disciplining them, say … yes, actually say to them, “I LOVE YA.”  They need to hear that you LOVE’EM!! 

Grace and compassion has boundaries. 

Grace and compassion can lead to accomplishment. 

Our students / children need adults to push them.  When the “push” is too hard, then for GOSH SAKE, show grace and compassion – pick them up.  Brush them off.  Say, “I am sorry” and move forward!  Do not stop pushing because your student / child got mad at you!  You need to learn how hard to push!  That is different from stop pushing! 

Grace is giving your student / your child a chance to get a better grade / forgive them for their mistakes (oppose to saying, “It’s okay for the wrong you did.”) (regeneration).  Innocently telling your student, when they are late for class, “It’s okay.  I understand.”  Means… It’s okay to be late.  

Compassion understands they (our students) are going through a rough time and at the same time tell them / SHOW THEM:  I love you and you are still going to get the grade you earned.  I hope you will be able to learn from this experience.  Failing can make us better… Babe Ruth / Hank Aaron / Barry Bonds all struck out more times than they hit home runs! 

Being the “adult” in the room is NOT FUN.  Nope.  It’s not.  Your job isn’t for you – the leader – to have fun.  Your job is similar to the host of the party.  Fill the chip bowl.  Put drinks on the table.  Make sure everyone is having fun

Being the “adult” in the room is making sure everyone else is having “fun.”  And “fun” is not allowing folks to do whatever the hell they want to do.  NOPE.  “Fun” is making it through a day without hurting yourself or others.  “Fun” is adding value to others’ lives.  “Fun” is learning from your mistakes. “Fun” can be seeing the smile for a person after you say, “I am sorry” or “I love ya.”  

FINISH 2020 STRONG FOLKS!  We can finish strong with grace and compassion!  LOVE YOU!!  Thanks for reading. 

Here is an organization that gives support.

Another organization in our community:

Our business BAND TOGETHER is looking for financial help, as well.  We offer leadership / be a better person training.  If you are interested in learning more, contact us… email:

Thank you.