I imagine the issue as we speak may be summed up merely: individuals mistake sympathy for compassion.
Sympathy is feeling unhealthy for somebody and wishing they didn’t really feel so unhealthy.
Sympathy is noble on the floor (“individuals ought to endure much less!”) however can usually find yourself being subtly self-serving (“individuals ought to endure much less as a result of I don’t wish to really feel unhealthy for them anymore.”)
Compassion is just like sympathy however completely different in an necessary manner.
Like sympathy, compassion begins with feeling unhealthy for somebody. However as an alternative of merely wanting the individual’s struggling to go away, compassion includes somebody who’s prepared to endure alongside that individual in order that they could overcome their challenges.
Sympathy is sending flowers and a card to a buddy when a mother or father dies. Compassion is driving to their home and holding them as they cry.
Sympathy is letting a screaming youngster have that toy they need so that they’ll cease screaming. Compassion is letting them cry as a result of you realize they are going to be higher off as soon as they perceive that they will’t at all times get what they need.
Sympathy is altering your profile image on social media for regardless of the new trigger du jour is. Compassion is definitely giving time or cash to victims, listening to their tales, serving to them rebuild their lives.
Sympathy is an efficient factor. We’d like it on the earth. Nevertheless it’s additionally simple. It’s short-term and short-sighted. It’s an, “Aw, I really feel unhealthy for him.” Sympathy is concentrated on the sensation reasonably than the individual. “I hope they really feel higher.”
Compassion is in regards to the individual. “I don’t simply hope they really feel higher, I hope they turn into higher.” Due to this fact, compassion is extra concerned. It takes extra effort—each psychological and emotional.
Sympathy is attempting to take away as a lot pressure and battle as doable. Compassion is attempting to assist an individual transfer by means of a manageable quantity of battle to allow them to develop into a greater individual.
I imagine that as a tradition we’re over-optimized for sympathy and under-optimized for compassion. That is in all probability largely social media’s fault, however not fully.
Sympathy is straightforward to speak on-line. It’s additionally simple to see sympathy communicated between others. Compassion is like sarcasm, it’s not communicated properly on-line. It’s additionally tougher to acknowledge between others.
We’re in all probability additionally over-optimized for sympathy as a result of it’s simpler to measure and examine. It’s comparatively simple to measure how good/unhealthy an individual feels. It’s extremely troublesome to measure whether or not somebody has grown or not.