Middle English: via Old French from ecclesiastical Latin compassio(n-), from compati, meaning to suffer with
empathy – sympathy – kindness – altruism – reciprocity – selfless action – prosocial behaviour – empathic concern
Easily championed, but everywhere challenged
is a complex yet under-researched concept
Compassion can be defined as a feeling or sincere sympathy and sorrow for another’s suffering, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate that pain. Precipitated by a complex of emotions, thoughts and responses to social and moral norms, compassionate action takes a step beyond sympathy or empathy in seeking to resolve or ease that suffering.
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries
Without them, humanity cannot survive
– Dalai Lama XIV
The Golden Rule
that one should treat others as one wishes to be treated oneself
seems both self-evident and universally accepted as the ethic of reciprocity, yet the evidence suggests that humans struggle to put
compassion into action
even though we are unique among species in having the capacity and motivation
to do so.