Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Fairy Tale Spotlight: What is Compassion?

I'll start this blog off with the Webster 1828 definition:


A suffering with another; painful sympathy; a sensation of sorrow excited by the distress or misfortunes of another; pity; commiseration. compassion is a mixed passion, compounded of love and sorrow; at least some portion of love generally attends the pain or regret, or is excited by it. Extreme distress of an enemy even changes enmity into at least temporary affection.

Wow, that was some harsh stuff to read, yeah? I'm still bleeding a little after taking that rather excruciating definition into my head. Even so, it's not wrong. Compassion can often be spurred on by some very negative emotions. We see someone suffering and it causes an empathetic response where we momentarily feel their grief. These feelings cause us to act if there is compassion enough to prompt such an action.

If this definition is true, it is very difficult for us to feel good when acting with compassion. There is a general sense of dread that is shared with the one you are acting on behalf, and this dread often is felt personally as well. If you do not have this feeling then there may be other reasons why you are acting, and it may not be compassion at all. Some people act in this way simply to prop themselves up in the eyes of others. They are not really suffering all that much--just enough to create the necessary image.

Real compassion comes with a sort of dread of one's own sacrifice. We momentarily and sometimes permanently put our happiness away in the name of someone else. While not altogether a bad thing, it can have negative and often lone term consequences. For this reason, I recommend an attempt at self-awareness before engaging in compassion in a large way.

We cannot better help others if we sacrifice too much of ourselves to do it. Furthermore, it can ultimately be detrimental to the ones we are trying to help. Compassion should never be an impulse. It should be a strong and pure drive backed by reason. Jumping off of a cliff to save someone who is already falling will not benefit anyone. The one falling will only have the final moment knowing that someone else had to die too. The actual jump comes across as more of an act on principle with no real benefit but to follow one's own impulses to do it. In the end, everybody dies and the world is a poorer place for it.

Reason can help here. It can help you figure out when to act. Many people in this world is immature. They panic about frivolous things. The smallest negatives can seem like the greatest horrors, when in truth, they will most likely move past these trials with little to no lasting trauma. I've seen this countless times. In a country such as this, many people simply do not have any concept of what true suffering is. So for the compassionate person, it is important to differentiate between those with real suffering and those who are simply crybabies.

I am sorry to say but we are constantly surrounded by a torrent of silly people crying out for silly reasons. Reasons as simple as "Today is not like yesterday." Most of these problems are actually based on aspects of being an infant. Babies tend to freak out when things change or when they have to endure something new that they don't understand. More so, they think that things out of sight have permanently disappeared. Many adults unfortunately carry these sad aspects along with them in life, and it causes them no end of grief. They think they are in a lion's den, but the lion is just on TV.

If you are going to be a compassionate person, do so with maturity in mind. Don't let emotional impulses rule you. Let emotion be balanced by intellectual reason. It is the way we were meant to be. Once we obtain that maturity, we will be better suited to travel this strange and often terrifying journey called life.

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  1. Well, I do have compassion as you described it. I have suffered for others, and not because I am obligated to do so. I have suffered to act for those who are not dear to me, for their sakes. They seldom even know, for I do what I do in secret when I can. My ways are not the ways of this world. People interpret my actions in ways that translate my behavior into ulterior motives, and this is why I am subtle. I have a job to do. I can do it better without their interference. As for jumping off a cliff to no avail, I have done so in a video game, and not by accident. I did not regret it, though it cost me the game. At that point, the game meant nothing to me, as would life if the fiction was real. As for maturity: I refuse to assimilate to a reality in which sincerity is secondary to other things. I shall not subordinate compassion to logic. life was never dear to me. The living are not dear to me. The dead are out of sight and ultimately out of mind. I shall bother to be mature, not because I care to, but for the sake of others, that I may do best by them. In other words, I shall wash the feet of the lowly for THEIR sakes, heeding their ways for THEIR sakes. I shall mature and be wise as best I can... as a matter of COMPASSION, having no other motive.

  2. Very insightful, in my youth I would try help anyone who even seemed to be suffering in the slightest, always at my own expense. Looking back I often would throw pearls before swine. In my maturity I have learned to not leap off the cliff to save those who are lost. I do have compassion but try to use it responsibly and only when it is actually necessary. Many think their problems are the end of the world but in reality they are simply inconveniences.

    1. Maturity actually helps with many things. It's hard to yank yourself out of the way you thought about things as a child, but it is important to do your best.

  3. There is a difference between being sacrificed and merely being inconvenienced. Those who care should not be at a loss for doing so. You can help someone up, but do not let them pull you down.

    1. People need to use both their emotions and their intellect at the same time to make compassion stronger and more purposeful. Once compassion is simply reduced to a simple emotion, it becomes useless to all parties.