Concern for the world's poor: Vatican 2 challenges us to have this on
Today www.v2catholic.com welcomes Brisbane teacher Bill Mulcahy
who has kindly agreed to post an article about poverty each Friday
- to keep reminding us of one of the key issues of V2.....one of the key issues of the Gospel
Friday January 20, 2012 Pity versus Compassion Bill Mulcahy (Brisbane)
Too often we see images of pain, starvation and suffering on television screens, often feeling sorry and pity, but comfortably enough removed from it in the surrounds of our lounge rooms. Too often we see them as images, instead of the people, the families and the communities they represent. We pity them. We “look down into a pit” and see someone in a condition very different to ourselves. Pity recognises the suffering through feelings (Oh what if that was me?) but also leads to inaction by setting ourselves apart from it, thus preserving our position of power.
Compassion on the other hand leads to action that is not solely based on pity for someone lesser than, but reaches out to a fellow human being, coming alongside the other human being.The “passion” at the end of the word implies that, somehow, the heart has to be deeply engaged. From this perspective, we see someone eye to eye, even when that’s uncomfortable for us.
Pity might give a handout, whereas compassion not only tends to an immediate need, but also empowers the person in need to be all they are meant to be.
How do you distinguish between pity and compassion?