The world needs more compassion. Most people just feel pity. That passive feeling through which sadness is experienced for those who suffer from deficiencies, for those who leave their country. A feeling experienced, in particular, by those who occupy the highest rung of society. But only those who are compassionate take an active feeling, strive to act and change things. It does everything it can to mitigate the suffering of others.
What intrigues most in our modern society is the great unease that the word “compassion” arouses. For example, no one likes to be pitied, because somehow they accept to recognize a position of weakness, a dimension that does not place us at the same level of opportunity as others. The meaning of this term, however, changes considerably when considered within Buddhist culture.
Compassion is a great tool that produces several positive results. The first is to see the world from a more human, affectionate and sensitive point of view. In addition, the authentic commitment of wanting to alleviate the suffering, to do everything possible to end the pain felt, is added.
But there is also an inner dimension, strongly needed, which is self-compassion. Again, we should be proactive towards our needs.
In short, it is not enough, it is not enough to feel pity. Observe those who suffer and put yourself in their shoes for a few moments, experiencing those same pains, and then move away and resume your life, forgetting what you saw as if it never happened. We need action, will and commitment. Towards others, but also towards ourselves. Developing that inner reality that we sometimes overlook and forget.
The world needs more compassion, more commitment
We often ignore the great psychological implication of some terms. Thus, the word “piety” is hidden in the recesses of its three syllables, with dimensions that are as curious as they are surprising. Some say, for example, that when they experience this emotion, they apply the highest degree of empathy. I am able to connect to the suffering of others, recognizing what hurts, suffering almost in the first person. By feeling pity, they automatically consume their emotional strain.
But beware, “having pity” on someone has nothing to do with empathy. Since this feeling arises from a feeling of superiority. It is evident of something that separates us from the other: the appearance, the status, the economic level and also the physical distance of the species. For example, when you feel pity for an animal.
On the other hand, when one feels compassion, the word itself already indicates a certain propensity to do, to lean forward, to seek contact. This word comes from the Latin “cum passio” and could be translated as “to suffer together”.
The distances vanish to establish a similar-to-like closeness, in which one participates in the pain of others, but with a very clear purpose: to work together to improve his situation. We can conclude that compassion is the result of the confluence of three basic aspects:
- Emotional : we actively join the suffering of others, experiencing the motivation for a change, a desire to intervene to generate well-being.
- Cognitive: we perceive the pain of others and evaluate it, concluding the need to develop an action plan.
- Behavioral : the decision to implement a series of actions to resolve the complicated situation of our fellow man.
Compassion, an instinct that the world must recover
The world needs more compassion. There are many people who contemplate the pain of others, but few who provide the means (their means) to foster positive change.
As indicated at the beginning, this word still has a somewhat complex and awkward implication in the human vocabulary. Nobody likes to convey a feeling of displeasure. Most of the time, we are also reluctant to get help from others.
However, as a study from the University of Berkeley (California) explains, man should be able to recover this “primary instinct”. Compassion would be that natural and automatic response that allowed us to survive as a species.
It has also been shown that 2- and 3-year-olds exhibit compassionate behavior towards peers even in the absence of rewards. It’s a reaction, a kind of instinctive response. Today, unfortunately, compassion tends to disappear and often due to conditioning and social pressure.
An interesting fact provided by Dr. Dachner Keltner, head of the study carried out by the University of Berkeley, concerns the famous aphorism “the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt best”. It is attributed to Charles Darwin, yet it would not be the work of the famous author of the Origin of Species . That idea, that phrase, was coined by Herbert Spencer and the social Darwinists, who wanted to justify the superiority of class and race.
Charles Darwin emphasized a very different idea. In fact, as he himself explained in his writings , societies in which compassion is more pronounced enjoy greater possibilities of evolution.
These are his words: “Social or maternal instincts such as compassion are better than any other. Communities that include a greater number of compassionate members will thrive more, because this trait promotes the survival and well-being of the species ”.