Active Compassion

Active Compassion, in fact, is the only legitimate form or display of compassion whatsoever, but far too few people realize this and they revel in a form of passive, hand-wringing compassion that enables them to feel special about their sensitivity while the legitimately suffering, well… suffer. Too many, many people, believe that feeling pain for other’s suffering is enough. But if the most you do is turn away because you don’t like the pain, you’ve done the sufferer no good with your comfortable compassion.

It is a small example, but The Equuschick is very tired of those who tell her, proudly, that can could never work at her shelter because they are too tender-hearted. The implication being, in some cases, that The Equuschick lacks their “compassion.” (Mind you, there are those who say it with respect,and do not imply the same.) The Equuschick would like to ask them what form of compassion seems to be of the most use to a homeless dog- the compassion that moves one to wring one’s hands and look away because one “can’t bear to see it”, or the compassion that moves one to get down in the dirt and do whatever you can to lessen the present suffering of the dog that won’t be here tomorrow.

Active compassion, in short, is useful compassion. The Equuschick has often been guilty of eating a cheap meal she doesn’t care for and saying grandly, “Think of the starving children in Africa!” No doubt, the starving children in Africa are grateful for The Equuschick’s sentiments, but they’d be more grateful still if she found a way to send them the money she saved when she bought a less than gourmet meal.

It is all very well for certain Rich and Famous to deplore the suffering in the world, and to demand that politicians annihalate suffering. The Equuschick would like to see certain of these Rich and Famous move to Africa, give all they have to the poverty-stricken communities, and to live out their lives quietly and commonly, toiling personally with one person, to make one person’s life better.

Government programs, concerts, speeches, and “policies” are not Active Compassion. If you sacrificed nothing personal to lessen suffering, than do not pat yourself on the back for your sensitivity.

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  1. Timotheus
    Posted July 29, 2005 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?”

  2. adrian
    Posted July 29, 2005 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Agreed. Do something, however small.

    However – I never understood the “you must eat all of this, because of the starving children .” In my case the was Panama, where my grandfather grew up. He told me about how over there, many children had to forage in the garbage for things to eat. I was a lucky child! But then! Later, if I did not want to eat what was given to me, he would get angry, saying, you must eat it, because, remember, there are starving children in Panama!

    This confused me no end – surely, it would be better for them if I DID throw my food away, so they could get it?

    The idea that the trash systems in Asia and Central America are not one and same, escaped my five year old mind.

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