The concept of compassion is cherished in almost all religious and philosophical traditions. A search of the word ‘compassion’ turns up a number of sites here in Indiana where compassion is coupled with pregnancy centers, end-of-life organizations, death and loss support groups, and more. What does compassion mean to you? Would you consider it the ‘most important of all healing qualities?’ My colleague, Eric Nelson, writing for Communities Digital News, believes just that. In the December 1, 2014 edition, he makes an inspired case for compassion as a vital quality in the healing of all kinds of diseases and other problems. Here’s Eric:
It would seem that over the years the widely accepted definition of compassion – that is, a feeling of deep sympathy coupled with the desire to alleviate the suffering of others – has been watered down somewhat.
Take the word “alleviate.” While alleviating someone’s pain might include the actual removal of it, it really just means to help that individual cope with or endure their pain. It’s also possible that our understanding of the very concept of compassion has waned as we’ve gotten into the habit of encouraging others to keep a stiff upper lip in the face of adversity.
But it wasn’t always like this.
Back in the day, people were being cured of a host of diseases simply through another’s expression of compassion. “Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat,” it says in the Bible, “and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” This included healings of blindness, leprosy and even death on more than few occasions.
Of course, that was then (if “then” ever really happened, some might say) and this is now, so why not just go with the flow and accept the fact that compassion, while certainly a desirable attribute, can only go so far, right? Wrong.