Compassion. Compassion literally means “to suffer together“. Suffer means to feel pain or distress. So compassion is entering into the pain and distress of a fellow human being (or, I suppose an animal, any living thing really.)
The embodiment of compassion is Christ. I know there are obviously many more but these are the examples that immediately spring to mind:
- the story of blind Bartimaeus
- the woman at the well
- the woman caught in adultery
- the woman with the issue of bleeding
- the feeding of the 5,000
- Lazarus’s death
- His death on the cross
Matthew 9:36 “But when he saw the multitudes,he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.”
Compassion is a character trait that we should all strive to have but may require some cultivation. Entering into the sufferings of another is not something that is natural for many of us unless it is someone close to us. In my reading of the September book club selection, I have found much that inspires compassion. (I haven’t quite finished it yet, but will share my full review when I do.) Of course, reading the accounts of Jesus in the scriptures does as well.
What is probably the easiest, most powerful way to inspire compassion in yourself is pretty simple: think of others as real, whole people. Peel away the stereotypes, false judgments, caricatures of people and stop putting them in boxes. This alone goes a long way towards feeling what another feels. Understanding they are just like us, understanding they feel and experience hurt and pain in the ways we all do maybe, just maybe, might be eye-opening.
What are some ways you can think of that cultivate and inspire compassion? Do you strive to be compassion in your day-to-day life?