When we are talking about compassion and enabling and which is what it is useful to look at what the definitions of compassion are. This is an article I wrote last year. Though it is spiritual in nature I thought in light of today’s reading that I would share it here. It is what I have learned about compassion (other than feeling great deals of it sometimes).
How do you view compassion?
These are my thoughts…
Compassion is key part of spirituality. What is compassion and what is not compassion? What is a compassionate act and what is not? These are questions that come up probably on a day to day basis for most of us. Starting in our home. Do we have compassion for those closest to us?
Compassion does not mean doing for someone else what they can do for themselves. Sometimes the only way and best kind of compassion or “mercy” we can show another is to refrain from injuring them further.
The definition of compassion is in English : “a feeling of deep sympathy or sorrow for another who is stricken with misfortune, accompanied by the strong desire to alleviate the suffering.” The oxford dictionary goes on to include the word pity. The word compassion in the English language leaves much to be desired. The word pity is not one that many of us say and have a good feeling about. Pity is not something we desire, nor is it something that feels good (by English definition) to do.
I have often found it useful to look to older languages to describe words that do not seem to be adequately full in their definition in the English language. In looking to Hebrew and Greek where the English has interpreted the word Compassion from the Bible there are in actuality several different words used for the term that we as English speakers have condensed into one word.
The Hebrew words that have been transferred to English as compassion in the Biblical sense mean something slightly different. Those words mean to show mercy in most of the Old Testament readings. There is a Greek word translated to English as compassion from the New Testament where it means to be moved in the gut and that is in regards to it causing an emotion of feeling that moves us to do something…..
If you get a minute today ponder the meaning of compassion. True compassion, showing mercy and refusing to do further harm. The “desire” to do something to alleviate discomfort or pain is not the act of doing that. Do we do harm when we do for others what they can do themselves? Do we do further harm when we take away natural consequences and avenues to learn when we clean up a mess for another human being? Is that truly a compassionate act? I don’t believe so. Share your thoughts! ~Adrienne