Compassion: (n) sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
There has to be some suffering brought on by misfortune before concern is expressed–otherwise, there’s a danger of casting your pearls before pigs.
What we often refer to as compassion is really pity. And pity is an emotion that does no good for either side.
Those who are pitied are weakened, and those who pity feel too much superiority for it to be of much personal good.
It reminds me of a snowy day when I saw a little boy trying to climb a hill with a bag full of groceries. He looked to be about eleven years old, and try as he might, every time he climbed the hill, he slipped, and slid back down, spilling the groceries. He patiently put the items back into the bag and tried to ascend again.
This happened four–no, five times.
It was on the fourth time that I noted his determination, even though there were the beginning signs of exasperation, as he punched his fist into the snow upon rising.
I did not intervene at first. I waited to see if he would persevere. I paused to give him a chance to succeed.
I let him struggle.
Then I went out and assisted him, and we made it up the hill together, slipping and sliding.
I’ve made many mistakes in my life by thinking I was being compassionate to people who just did not feel it was necessary for them to put forth effort. I was always left holding the bag, feeling great disappointment.
Compassion occurs when you realize people have tried almost everything they could think of to solve their problem, are still pursuing it and could sure use encouragement and a helping hand.