What is the definition of COMPASSION?
Compassion literally means “to suffer together.” Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.
According to Merriam Webster, (merriamwbster.com), the definition of Compassion is – “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it”. You feel so compelled with others suffering that you want to make it better.
Compassion is the source of motivation for those who feel the suffering of others and want to alleviate their pain. Compassion is also a pre-requisite for good leadership. Without compassion you cannot be of service to those whom you serve. It is very hard to understand hunger pangs if you never had them. However by interacting with people you can see, hear and feel the hunger they have.
You do not have to go through the same suffering but you must have an understanding of the pain they experience and have the consciousness to improve things. Like Aristotle argues, ” When one encounters a horse, for example, one may see, hear, feel, and smell it; it is the central sense that unifies these sensations into perceptions of a single object (though the knowledge that this object is a horse is, for Aristotle, a function of intellect rather than sense)”. Being able to recognise people’s suffering and taking steps to change can only happen if you are well versed with what is happening on the ground. Recognising the problems and put plans into action to make things better.
‘Know thy self’ is one of the 24 well-known phrases by Socrates. Knowing yourself makes it easy for you to understand what others need, as our basis is similar if we ask the right questions. Of course, not all of us have to live the experience of any particular kind of suffering to understand the grieve, but if we don’t place ourselves into that scenario we may never have an inkling as to what might be of help.
We can imagine what loss is because we have all lost something. In addition, not all of us have experienced a painful surgery, yet this does not mean we can not appreciate the pain that person might have experienced as our physical bodies all function the same. Empathy and anxiety are expressed by all but not lived by all, but this does not make it any less of an experience whether you have lived it or not.
If I know myself and understand life, it comes to reason that the world we live in is a repetition of me. Furthermore, if all I want is to be is happy, content and free then it is true for the collective, we want to be happy, content and free.
Compassion then is a prerequisite for a thinking reasoning man, as we all are the same.
What does this teach me?
Questioning teaches me that the more questions we ask, the more we understand what makes us happy. Moreover, through questioning ourselves we can begin to understand the true meaning of life and the utmost forms of humanity and virtue. Socrates believed that questioning thy self translated into politics with the best form of government being neither a tyranny nor a democracy. Instead, the government worked best when ruled by individuals who had the greatest ability, knowledge and virtue, and possessed a complete understanding of themselves. Virtue is an important ingredient to best practice thus understanding what that means may shine a light on the essence of humanity. Virtue is a noun.
“Moral excellence; goodness; righteousness. … a particular moral excellence. Compare cardinal virtues, natural virtue, theological virtue. a good or admirable quality or property: the virtue of knowing one’s weaknesses. if we argue that virtue then is an admirable quality and something to strive for what drives us to this thought? According to Aristotle( who was a student of Plato in advertently Socrate) the epitome of exellent human exitance are pillared on the seven principles…”
1. the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason
2. sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs
3. skill and good judgment in the use of resources
4. caution or circumspection as to danger or risk
1. strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage
2. obsolete : STRENGTH
- In philosophy, the concept of a proper proportion between a person’s deserts (what is merited) and the good and bad things that befall or are allotted to him or her. Aristotle’s discussion of the virtue of justice has been the starting point for almost all Western accounts. For him, the key element of justice is treating like cases alike, an idea that has set later thinkers the task of working out which similarities (need, desert, talent) are relevant. Aristotle distinguishes between justice in the distribution of wealth or other goods (distributive justice) and justice in reparation, as, for example, in punishing someone for a wrong he has done (retributive justice). The notion of justice is also essential in that of the just state, a central concept in political philosophy
- temperance noun[ U ] formal UK /ˈtem.pər.əns/ /ˈtem.prəns/ US /ˈtem.pɚ.əns/control of your own behaviour, such as not drinking or eating too much the habit of not drinking alcohol because you believe it is dangerous or wrong Thesaurus: synonyms and related wordsSelf-control and moderation
2. and theology added
- complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
- a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen
- an intense feeling of deep affection.
- a great interest and pleasure in something
If we as humans possess all these qualities of compassion, why is it that we see so many atrocities still? My guess is that humanity is a constant checking of your motives, questioning yourself, trying to make a difference to those around you by attempting to solve the problems that are stopping them from being their best selves.
Be disciplined but do not be overpowered by your own temptations. Instead, hope for the best for all. In this we build bridges of hope and love and trust in the faith that fortitude and just will win.
all photographs and art work is Linda Cassels property