19 Apr

Blessed Are Those Who Practice Compassion

Posted by Obiora Nnamdi Anekwe

Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2011) defines compassion as the response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to help. In ethical terms, compassion originates from the Golden Rule often embodied in the principle of compassion: Do to others what you would have them do to you. The etymology of "compassion" is Latin, meaning "co-suffering." The Greeks believed that to show compassion revealed one’s weakness. In turn, they saw reason as the true and ideal virtue. But in modern times, compassion has been seen as a virtue that humanity seeks to nurture, especially in the field of medicine.

Being compassionate means more than to be empathetic for another person’s plight, it is an active and purposeful desire to alleviate another's suffering. I, in particular, have found that compassionate service can even help one discover one’s own purpose. Service, in and of itself, can never be over-emphasized. A compassionate soul sees the hurt and pain of another soul and tries to meet another person’s need with all one can give. True compassion is difficult to achieve because it requires consistency and tenacity to do what is justifiably right. The absence of compassion rewards the presence of selfishness.

Somehow, through an exaggerated effort to promote individualism, we have forgotten how a compassionate spirit can ultimately reward genuine generosity. Many people have become so directed and focused on seeking empty promises of success that they have forgotten about the most needy. When I speak about “the needy”, I am not referring to those in physical poverty; but rather those who are poor in spirit, which includes all who suffer internally from mental and spiritual deprivation.

Although we tend to know better, many of us still fall prey to the false belief that because we have “made it”, somehow others who are “unsuccessful” are at fault for their own lack of “success”. No matter how untrue this myth may be, it continues to gravitate to greater heights among the pseudo-bourgeoisie class. But what we must come to realize is that true compassion is an exercise of purposeful humility practiced through direct engagement with human need.

Let us remember that we are all ethically responsible for how compassionate we are because, in the end, what affects one affects all others. If we fail to practice compassion, we, in turn, fail to become our better selves!


References:

Maclsaac, Tara. (2016, March 25-31). Epoch Weekend by Epoch Times, W1, W4.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2011). The definition of the word, compassion.