More than 26 years ago, on July 27, 1990, Debbie Baigrie was walking to her car to head home after dinner with her friends in Tampa, Florida. Baigrie, then 28, was enjoying her first night out since giving birth to her second child.
Then she saw a group of men walking toward her. The next thing she remembers is that she was shot sending a bullet through her mouth.
Three days later, Ian Manuel, a 13-year-old from Tampa, confessed to the crime. In February 1991, he pleaded guilty to armed robbery and attempted murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Baigrie was in shock that her assailant was just 13 but she made it a point to speak at his sentencing hearing, saying that she thought he should be rehabilitated instead of going to prison.
While Baigrie began to physically heal undergoing some 40 dental procedures to rebuild her gums and teeth — the mental healing would take some time.
“I buried my emotions,” she says. “I never cried about it, and I never felt sorry for myself. I had two young kids to take care of. The focus was on them.”
And then, around Christmas 1991, she got a phone call from Manuel himself. He apologized and asked for her forgiveness. Baigrie says, “ That took a lot of courage to do.”
After that brief conversation, the two formed a bond that’s only grown since.
While Manuel spent most of his adolescence behind bars, he says she helped get him through it. “She became a mother to me and helped me grow up” says Manuel gratefully
In November 2016, Manuel, now 40, was released from prison after a 2010 Supreme Court decision prohibited life-without-parole sentences for juveniles charged with anything less than murder.
Baigrie was there to greet him on the outside.
“I was able to live a great life while he was behind bars,” she says. “He was so young, and over time I got to see how smart and thoughtful he was. He now has a second chance.”
This is such a great story about Compassion with so many dimensions—of forgiveness, of empathy, of putting somebody else first before oneself.
When you can be in someone else’s shoes and think and feel like him or her that is Empathy.
Showing empathy to others is a sign of selflessness and compassion. While being empathic comes easily to some people, others must work hard to intentionally show that they care. Taking the time to understand someone’s situation and feelings gives you the opportunity to walk a mile in his shoes. Courtesy: People Magazine
Look around you and you see countless number of people dying in terrorist attacks or genocide by Dictatorial Regimes. And you start wondering can a human being inflict so much pain and suffering on a fellow human being?
What we are talking about today is the torture and killing of innocent men and women who are followers of a spiritual exercise and meditation practice called Falun Gong. Since the principles of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance does not go well with the government’s ideologies, people are forced to give up their faith and if they don’t, they are killed.
And hold on, the shocking thing is their organs are extracted and put up in the black market for sale. Whereas, in the rest of the world you have to wait for an organ transplant, in China you can get it in less than a week. Can you imagine one human being inflicting so much pain on a fellow human being? It is because they cannot empathize and lack compassion