THE PLACE OF EMPATHY & COMPASSION IN OUR HUMAN CULTURE
The term compassion is commonly used and comes from a Latin word which means to bear with or to suffer with. Compassion and empathy are important human qualities that give one a sense of feeling, understanding and hence respond to other people is suffering. The qualities enable individuals to make relationships of caring and being able to maintain them, since the ability to care is a fundamental feature in the human condition as it is a universal response. This enables the individuals to communicate to each other in a manner that is polite and respectable (Aronson, 2000).
Compassion and empathy
Compassion is the enormous and intelligent love that is beyond passionate love that is not always intellectual. Without empathy, there can be no compassion. Compassion is a complete organization of skills and understanding learned and experienced, that shows a high achievement of the human mind. Compassion is the constant target to seek the good of others and is characterized by empathy, tolerance, patience gentle concern, and understanding.
When one suffers with another person, it therefore means that he has value and thoughts of identifying with other people’s pain and feels along with them. Therefore, compassion is a choice that is seen to be active to want with others and to want for others the easing of their entire suffering. Acting compassionately therefore implies that we recognize that we are ready to share mortality hence we all suffer and finally die (Davidson, & Harrington, 2002).
In contrast, the term empathy on the other hand comes from a Greek word, which means in feeling or feeling into. Whereas compassionate is the feeling of showing sympathy for people who are suffering. Therefore, the component of empathy, compassionate is the acknowledgment and accepting of the other’s suffering. It is a deep gratitude for what it is truly like to be in the other’s circumstances from his or her standpoint. Empathy therefore calls for openness to getting and holding the other’s incident without hesitation or verdict. Empathy is unreceptive but completely helpful. It involves entering into and staying in attendance in the hurting occurrence of the other without moving away from that occurrence by trying to change it. Empathy establishes a deep link of common susceptibility and understanding.
The value of interaction between individuals, and not the quantity of them, is what matters mainly in terms of emotional spirit. It is better to have a few elevated quality relationships than many minor quality ones. Therefore, the attributes of compassionate and empathy play a key role in differentiating people with higher quality relationships from people with lower quality relationships. These are skills that can be cultivated by being other focused instead of being self-focused, and through practicing self-sacrifice (Hoffman, 2000).
When one is in a relationship, there are key things that he can focus on. That is, attention towards yourself, or towards your partner. Therefore, the attributes of compassionate and empathy shapes one in such a manner that he will focus on his partner’s experiences that is a difficult situation for most people in society. In the end one will be in a position to feel and realize the needs of one’s partner. Whereas, at the same time make efforts to make him feel better and cared for.
For one to be in a position to practice empathy and compassion there is need to make efforts and put his own cares and worries a side for sometime so as to keep the relationship with the partner growing. Take time to listen to what your partner has to say and listen actively. Pay attention to the manner in which he also carries himself and the things that he does so that you are able to fully understand his situation and depth of suffering. Perform a keen analysis on what he says and what he does and come out with the disconnections that you find out and find an opportunity to intimately talk to him (Aronson, E. 2000).
Compassion and empathy enables an individual to perform altruism. In most cases, it is assumed that when one is being altruistic, then he is losing something that is valuable to him and not getting anything in return. However, this is not the case in most situations since when one gives himself generously, there are multiple benefits that may not be seen then but will be realized later. Most people realize an unselfish act and understand its genuineness. For instant, they become loyal to generous people and act generously towards them. Being generous also exposes an individual into new generous associations that will benefit him or her in one-way o r another. The ability to act generously and altruistically has an influential positive impact on your self-esteem. Therefore, throughout your life, throughout your life, your flexibility and bond to other people become improved whenever you act to help other people in need (Davidson & Harrington, 2002).
According to The Dalai Lama, the quest of divine goals and eventual freedom from suffering and evil requires the intent to be of service to others. Selfish goals and methods alone are not adequate and inescapably lead to discontent. He teaches that each person can work with his or her own intelligence to build up a higher consciousness, characterized by compassion and ethical conduct. Roles are seen as compatible; one man’s enemy is another man’s friend. The sense of common altruism is elevated to a high moral code in the form of the golden rule. Both good and bad deeds are acknowledged as karmic agents that persist to act in a succession of causation without a beginning or an end (Hoffman, 2000).
Therefore, every individual should make efforts to achieve the compassion and empathy attributes, as they are important in every day-to-day life. We all live with people that we need to be able to interact together. Thus, these attributes are necessary, as they will keep these good relations between individuals. Compassion and empathy will help human beings relate in a friendly manner, as they will have respect for each other. The unselfish behaviors will help the individuals help each other without being self-centered and without expecting any payment in return.
Aronson, E. (2000). Nobody left to hate: Teaching compassion after Columbine. New York: W. H. Freeman and Company.
Davidson, R. J., & Harrington, A. (2002). Visions of compassion: Western scientists and Tibetan Buddhists examine human nature. New York: Oxford University Press.
Hoffman, M. L. (2000). Empathy and moral development: Implications for caring and justice. New York: Cambridge University Press.