Compassion – what is it and have you got it ?

The dictionary defines compassion as sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

Henri Nouwen was a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian. His interests were rooted primarily in psychology, pastoral ministry, spirituality, social justice and community. He said that Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.

The picture above is of two women I met yesterday in Dublin from Iraq and Sudan. The Iraqi Irish poets event was a great bridge builder. Although not without serious content. More on that later.

In the US, I worked for Compassion International for a season. Compassion International is a child sponsorship and Christian humanitarian aid organization headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado that aims to positively impact long-term development of children living in poverty, globally. I was surprised and impressed by how efficiently this humanitarian organization was run.

Compassion is needed in all areas of life. Its a trait worthy of attention in Churches, government, leadership, the workplace. There is growing evidence that leaders can LEARN to be more compassionate. Companies are putting the “human” back into human resources and work with a renewed focus on showing care for others who are suffering.

Now you know what it is, do you think you have it?

How might you develop it more ?

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