I recently had the opportunity to lead a discussion during the Festival of Empathy on ‘compassion and empathy’ with a focus on older people in our different faith communities. I found it helpful to consider the definitions and chose the following:
Compassion – a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another (as in e.g. authors have the skill to make you feel empathy with their heroines), whereas sympathy means ‘feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune’ (as in e.g. they had great sympathy for the flood victims).
All our major religions have compassion as a core virtue:
- Hindu – compassion is the core virtue in its philosophy
- Judaism – God is the compassionate
- Christianity – Jesus Christ the Father of Compassion
- Islam – Allah the Compassionate
Accompanied by the Golden Rule “do to others what you would want them to do to you”.
Currently the new National Care Standards for health and social care in Scotland are being developed at the heart of which are five core principles:
- Dignity and respect
- Be included
- Responsive care and support
We discussed a range of questions which included:
- Is being kind and helpful the same as being compassionate?
- Can you teach compassion?
- What do you understand by compassion fatigue?
- What can we do to prevent such fatigue?
What do you think?
21 June 2016