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Compassion

Inspired by recent events and all the shit I had to deal with last summer.

I believe the greatest virtue a person can have is compassion. In short compassion is the awareness of hurt, difficulty, unfairness, etc… in other people along with the desire to alleviate that suffering. It goes beyond sympathy and empathy because people practice compassion through their actions, not passively through feelings. What separates compassion from other virtues such as integrity, patience and humility is that compassion will make not only your life better, but everyone else’s lives better as well.

Compassion begins with first understanding yourself such as why you have your strengths and weaknesses and why you experience certain emotions. When you understand your own anger and suffering, you will know how it feels like when others suffer. Only then will you be in a position to find the compassion to help others. This involves self-reflection and it’s up to you how you want to do that. For me, I like to walk to the park. There I think about myself as a person (eg goals, relationships, emotions) and that helps me understand why I behave the way I do.

No one is perfect which makes compassion more important than ever. Everyone has their own flaws, but that doesn’t mean you can look down on them just because you don’t have their same flaws. Everyone wants to be happy, but our shortcomings prevent us from pursuing it to a certain extent. If someone does something to upset or hurt you, you don’t get angry back or seek revenge because that would just create more suffering. Instead you try to understand the person and see why they behave that way. Many times it’s simply that people lack the education or experience to make better decisions. Therefore you help them to become better people so they don’t upset others. It requires a certain level of wisdom to understand other people and act accordingly. However, I believe all it takes to reach that level is the willingness to self-reflect and learn from not only your own experiences, but that of others as well.

When we look at other people, we see a part of ourselves in them as well. If other people are sad, then I feel sad too and want to help them feel better, whether they be friend or stranger. The more you care for the happiness of others, the greater your own sense of well-being becomes. Also developing a good heart will keep your own peace of mind. As to why compassion works, Simba said it best in The Lion King:

 

Although everyone is unique, you give everyone the same compassion, without exception, even though you may show it differently to everyone. To be compassionate means to want others to be happy and not suffer because like yourself, everyone else wants to pursue happiness. It comes with a sense of responsibility for the welfare of others irrespective of what they may have done to you. You extend compassion to everyone, whether they be friend or stranger, regardless of appearance, race, sexual orientation etc… without expecting anything in return simply because you know it will make them happy.

I found this story on the internet about a great act of compassion (yes it’s long, but definitely worth the read).

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Categories: Life, Personal, Philosophy
  1. August 9, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    I agree about compassion being a great virtue in people. However, I don’t think (direct) action is necessary for one to be compassionate; I think it’s possible to appear passive while still being compassionate.

    Ah yes, I remember that article. I agree–it’s a good read.

    • September 4, 2012 at 11:48 pm

      Hmm I’ll have to rethink this through. I agree it’s possible to be compassionate by choosing not to take any action. Unfortunately the lack of direct action could be (mis)attributed to apathy.

  1. May 30, 2013 at 1:38 pm

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