Today I would normally be running my ‘words’ blog but I read yesterday about this 1000 speak blogathon. Today 1000+ bloggers take to cyberspace to address the emotive subject that is compassion. There is no set format for this. Some will be blogging on individual problems some more general. I have hi-jacked my ‘words’ space for this purpose.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary compassion means
1) Participation in another’s suffering, fellow feeling, sympathy
2) Pity inclining on to show mercy or give aid
3) Sorrowful emotion, grief.
The views here are mine and if I offend or irritate I apologize.
I don’t personally believe that compassion is about pity, not in the modern use of the word pity, which often appear to have overtones of condescension or even judgment about it. Not always but enough for me to avoid it.
I believe to feel compassion, as opposed to pity, one needs to exercise imagination; need to able to circumvent ‘self’ and become ‘other’.
Compassion bypasses judgment, prejudice and assumed knowledge
Imagination is needed to truly try and feel what the other feels. It’s not enough to just watch the news, read the papers and feel sympathetic and pity misfortune.
Compassion is much more than sympathy, more than pity, much more than ‘there for the grace of God go I’, more than walking a mile in another’s shoes. It is about changing a whole mindset to become ‘other’
Compassion is not about
Compassion is not about charity, although that is needed.
Nor duty, although that can help a situation.
It is not directed merely to friends but also enemies
Compassion needs a powerful leap to comprehension.
Compassion is about being part of a whole, of life.
Compassion is not even just about human to human, all of life has a need for compassion.
It is not just about being kind, helpful or caring. It is about feeling the fear, despair or helplessness of another, to be able to hold a hand and say nothing, do nothing but be there; about quietly without thought of thanks or reward do something to alleviate. When I say reward I don’t mean monetary reward I mean feelings of self-reward. Compassion should be about doing, being, because doing, being, is what we do.
I make it sound easy but compassion, especially in the modern day bustle, is often one of the hardest things to achieve. I believe most of us have it in us to have compassion for others. Maybe lives are busy or unraveling for us, maybe we have never exercised our minds and imagination in this way. Maybe we are nervous of being ‘involved’ whatever, but I still believe we are capable of compassion.
Humanity needs it. On a personal level and on a global level, more and more as we become more over populated, humanity needs it.