I imagine the issue right now might 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 undergo much less!”) however can typically find yourself being subtly self-serving (“individuals ought to undergo much less as a result of I don’t wish to really feel unhealthy for them anymore.”)
Compassion is much like sympathy however totally different in an essential method.
Like sympathy, compassion begins with feeling unhealthy for somebody. However as an alternative of merely wanting the particular person’s struggling to go away, compassion includes somebody who’s keen to undergo alongside that particular person in order that they might overcome their challenges.
Sympathy is sending flowers and a card to a pal when a dad or mum dies. Compassion is driving to their home and holding them as they cry.
Sympathy is letting a screaming youngster have that toy they need in order that they’ll cease screaming. Compassion is letting them cry as a result of they are going to be higher off as soon as they perceive that they’ll’t all the time 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 effective factor. We want it on the planet. 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 moderately than the particular person. “I hope they really feel higher.”
Compassion is concerning the particular person. “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 making an attempt to take away as a lot pressure and battle as doable. Compassion is making an attempt to assist an individual transfer via a manageable quantity of battle to allow them to develop into a greater particular person.
I imagine that as a tradition we’re over-optimized for sympathy and under-optimized for compassion. That is most likely largely social media’s fault, however not solely.
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 effectively on-line. It’s additionally more durable to acknowledge between others.
We’re most likely additionally over-optimized for sympathy as a result of it’s simpler to measure and research. It’s comparatively simple to measure how good/unhealthy an individual feels. It’s extremely tough to measure whether or not somebody has grown or not.