What we hold in our hearts for others is the way we'll act toward them. A hard heart makes for hard judgments; a compassionate heart understands the humanity of the one we presume to judge.
Compassion for the other comes out of our ability to accept ourselves. Until we realize both our own weaknesses and our own privileges, we can never tolerate lack of status and depth of weakness in the other.
The self-righteous hate themselves for their own weaknesses and so they despise them in others. That's why those who claim to be virtuous fall so much further, so much harder, than others when they fall. A touch of compassion for others along the way would surely soften the fall, as fall we shall--sooner or later.
Compassion is the ability to understand how difficult it is for people to be the best of what they want to be at all times.
Life buffets us at our best. That's why the hand of one who understands our efforts, our errors, becomes the bridge that carries us over the failures of life. . . .
"My feeling is that there is nothing in life but refraining from hurting others, and confronting those that are sad," Olive Schreiner wrote. The idea deserves thought. Imagine a world where "rugged individualism" and "natural corrections in the market place" gave way to "refraining from hurting the others and comforting those who are sad." National compassion would surely mean no more street people. No more children with nowhere to go. No more hungry people in the richest country in the world. More welfare for the poor as well as for the rich.
Compassion is the virtue that opens heaven to us. It is what makes us most like God. Everyone suffers in life. Compassion is that quality in another that makes it possible for us to survive it.
Compassion makes no distinction between friends and enemies, neighbors and outsiders, compatriots and foreigners. Compassion is the gate to human community.
Compassion is not sympathy. Compassion is mercy. It is a commitment to take responsibility for the suffering of others. . . .
It's one thing to do good; it's another thing to be good. It's possible, perhaps, to do good simply out of principle, but it's impossible to really be good that way--not if goodness is a quality of the heart and not simply an exercise of the will.