YspeopleExplore tab


Is there anything more important than compassion?

About DJC

The older I get, the less I know and the more inquisitive I get.

Unfortunately, despite a lifelong search, most of the answers elude me. That said, I love to ask the questions and fuel the debates that will ultimately lead us all to a better understanding of the big issues in life, the universe and everything.

They say that we spend 98% of our lives in our head. I for one would like to use that time as effectively as possible.

It is not easy to be profoundly compassionate, but it is my goal. What's yours?

Compassion: Is there anything more important?

Demonstrate compassion to all.

Demonstrate compassion to all. Picture: Shutterstock

The simple answer to this question is likely yes. But for the life of me, I cannot think what.

Few values are more important, in my view, than compassion.

Compassion, or the genuine concern for the plight of others, is important because we are all products of our circumstances.

None of us are 100 percent responsible for our successes or failures, or for our good deeds and bad. To me, compassion is a sign of caring, of respect and sharing the human condition.

To be compassionate is to be kind, supportive and to show others the respect you would like shown to you.

Research suggests that compassion has a number of other benefits - including improved health and wellbeing, greater common identity, a propensity to act in the best interests of all, a reduction in suffering and greater happiness. Yes, that is right, in addition to helping those you are being compassionate toward, it also benefits the one being compassionate.

Of course, it is much easier to talk about compassion than be truly compassionate. It is even harder to be ‘profoundly compassionate’, as is my goal.  

Most of us demonstrate compassion when it comes to those we love. We are however, less inclined to be compassionate towards those we don’t know. We tend to show a great deal more compassion in relation to the plight of our own children than other people's children. Sad, but true.

Most of us are more compassionate toward people we relate to more than we are to people we don’t. Australians demonstrated a justifiably high degree of compassion towards the English and French after recent terrorist attacks, but much less apparent compassion toward Turkey when it had far more devastating experiences. Australians have a firmer connection with the UK and France.

To read more about compassion and how to practise it, a self-help book may be the way to go

Most of us are more compassionate when an issue does not affect us. Australians demonstrated a very high level of compassion for the refugees in Europe after the young child washed up onto the beach in Italy, but a much lower level of compassion toward the plight of the refugees Australia has imprisoned on Manus Island and Nauru. Refugees coming to Australia are seen as less deserving of compassion.

Most of us are more compassionate when the person involved is someone we like or agree with. I am much more compassionate toward refugees and understanding of the circumstances that brought them to where they are, than I am towards Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton, and the hideous life experiences that would have been necessary to make them the haters they are today.

My value, one of the five articulated in my first in this series, is profound compassion’ which implies feeling and demonstrating compassion where ever it is called for - not just when it is someone I love, relate to, does not impact on me, or someone I agree with. Profound compassion also involves self-compassion, an essential component of self-actualisation.

I am pretty good at feeling and demonstrating compassion toward people, irrespective of my love for them and whether or not I relate to them. I feel I have almost mastered compassion towards people regardless of love or relatability. I certainly care no more or less about terrorism in Britain than any other country, including Australia.

I would hope to have made more progress than I have in terms of other forms of compassion. While I do have compassion for all refugees and believe that those on Manu Island should be allowed to live in Australia, I do struggle with being compassionate toward people who have impacted me badly. I still have a tendency to be unforgiving and less compassionate toward people who have hurt me, despite recognising that they are no less deserving of compassion.

I am not at all good at demonstrating compassion for those I view as bad people, such as Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton, Eric Abetz and Kevin Andrews. It is not so much that I disagree with then, as indeed I do with many of their colleagues, to whom I am open to demonstrating a great deal of compassion. I lack compassion for these four men because of what i see a a complete absence of moral substance – ignoring the reality that they deserve compassion as much as anyone.

Finally, I have failed entirely in terms of self-compassion, but that is a story for another time.

For me, profound compassion is an important value. It is also an aspirational value. I am not there yet. I will, however, continue to work toward it and hope to get there one day.

Do they not say that recognising a problem is the first step in the process of solving it? If that is so, I may have taken my first step. 

Banner 2
| Your rating
No ratings yet

Related stories

That desperation to ''know'' and be right can cause so much unnecessary conflict.

When 'knowing' is dangerous


Nothing starts more conflict than people ''knowing'' stuff.

Politics Community Philosophy
5 days ago
(Ys Comment)
Do you trust politicians? Picture: Shutterstock.

Why don’t we trust politicians?

Here are my top five reasons that politicians are not trusted -- and they all relate to behaviour.

Australia Social Issues Politics
7 days ago
(Ys Comment)
Who is going to make their country better for their children, if they don’t? Picture: Shutterstock.

The real refugee question

All three of the common arguments against refugees have ignorance at their root. But there is one question yet to be addressed.

Australia Middle East Politics Social Issues
8 days ago
(Ys Comment)
Lines of people wait to collect natural spring water for drinking during the Cape Town drought.

Water: a crisis in the making

Cape Town is about to run out of water -- and 11 other major cities are facing the same plight. Horrifying, isn't it?

Australia Travel Environment
14 days ago
(Ys Comment)
PM Malcolm Turnbull attends another military show of strength.

Why the obsession with war?

Why we must rethink our view of the military -- and care more for our returned soldiers.

Community Australia Politics
15 days ago
(Ys Comment)
Finding your mythical purpose.

Perhaps it's your 'fate' to read this post

Why it pays to create your own purpose ... and other philosophical musings.

Community Phhilosophy
22 days ago
(Ys Comment)
We have a beautiful country but is our national anthem accurate? (Image: Shutterstock).

Australia's national anthem a disappointment


As far as national anthems go, Advance Australia Fair fails to mean much to me. Here's why.

History Culture Australia
29 days ago
(Ys Comment)
Boofhead and Moralising.

F**k boofhead Barnaby and moralising Malcolm

The grubbiness of the Barnaby Joyce affair shows there is pain ahead for many, including the good voters of Australia.

Social Issues Relationships Australia Politics
About 1 month ago
(Ys Comment)
Shop safely from the comfort of home by following these simple rules.

Shop safely online with these simple rules


Wondering what all the fuss is about with online shopping, but scared of being ripped off? Don't worry, we'll steer you right.

Technology Money
About 2 months ago
(Ys Comment)
When it comes to condoms, what happened to the old adage, ''if it's not on, it's not on''?.

Let's talk about sex, Baby Boomers

We want to talk about safe sex ... and why so many of you aren't using condoms. Come join the conversation.

Community Health Relationships
About 2 months ago
(Ys Comment)

Have your say!

Your Great Australians

Trending stories
Marriage is a con, serving no purpose at all.

Marriage is a symptom of ugliness

Relationships and love have...

(Love & Relationships) About 7 hours ago
She truly does love, honour and obey Jim.

Jim really does spank his wife often

Part two in the story of...

(Love & Relationships) 4 months ago
Camel milk vanilla slice.

Camel milk vanilla slice

A delicious slice created...

(Epicure) 5 days ago
I'm dying of laughter!.

These fabulous puns have groan on me

Everybody loves a good pun,...

(Pastimes) 5 days ago
Do you have a canny tip for saving money.

Share your money-saving hacks here

Everyone loves to save a...

(Money & Business) 1 day ago
Weekly Poll
Photographic memories
It's 35 years since the Ash Wednesday bushfires in South Australia and Victoria claimed 75 lives and more than 2500 buildings.