It is amazing to me that Compassion in African Tradition is a “Super-star”. Yet, in a huge search of European literature, it was not mentioned in psychology, sociology, or psychiatry texts. However, in its tiny European Biblical times mention of it, most relate to God in dealing with humans. One text said how God’s love remains free to respond compassionately or to withhold compassion (Ex. 33:19). Since this seems more like a vengeful human rather than God’s response, I wonder how authors know how free God is to do anything or is this merely “Opinion”—which, to me, is worst than nothing since it leads the naïve astray. Every “expert” confusingly disagrees with all other “experts” as to meanings of Compassion, Pity, and Mercy–and if they are the same or different. Apparently, original European concepts said Compassion, Pity (said to be undefinable) and Sympathy signified shared “feelings” of sorrow—and now, to any ‘passion’. All are described as emotional and imaginative experiences of entering into and sharing the mind, particularly the thoughts and sentiments of another. Despite such hopeless definitional and conceptual confusion about “Compassion” it is too important to disregard since so many people rely on both.
In using the “T” Scale—with Compassion of African Tradition representing the horizontal bar, the top of the European vertical bar has a concept almost acceptable to African Standards: ‘helping some in difficulty to bear a burden which otherwise may be crushing.’ I daresay European mothers’ relationship considerations about their babies know this concept is flawed, as when a ‘crushing’ situation arises there is no ‘choice’ and no ‘not helping.’ Instead, mothers’ reflexly react to do what has to be done. A step down dictionary definition is “to be moved emotionally by the other’s tragic situation” by having a deep awareness coupled with the wish to relieve it. People who experience this type judge themselves to be “compassionate”–reconstructing the situation of the victim imaginatively. What goes into this is using their own experiences of what they deem to be “tragic”—and this has little or nothing to do with seeing the situation through the eyes of the victim. However, if at all possible, truly good persons draw on pertinent information within a moment so as to make an informed, intelligent action in spite of the great risk in giving of Self, so as to alleviate suffering. Two steps down is where some of the following definitions apply: Mercy is that moral virtue whereby one treats other humans with compassion and offers spiritual and/or temporal aid according to the person’s wants; or ‘suffering with another’ without doing anything; pity touched with loving concern; and sympathy arising out of a consciousness of altruistic love. They then respond to it emotionally and within ways shaped by the meaning and values of their culture. If the Decider does anything, it is under her/his “Big Ego” control orchestrating an impulsive; or “camera moment”; or sentimental response to help out “one of those people”; or for reciprocity.
Three steps down are the compassionate whose something done makes things worse because of applying patterned methods to a unique situation. This is like “Big Ego” outsiders coming into poor neighborhoods to “fix” poor people’s problems without knowing anything about the people, their views, or the specific problems. Four steps down is ethnocentric—“I only help my-kind” which is based on the unspoken rule of: “I’ll help you because, if I am in your situation, I want you to help me the same way.” Non-Cult members are excluded. Five steps down are people who “front” as compassionate and will “do what they can” when they “get around to it.” To them, saying these things is equated to having done the job they never did or will. Steps at the bottom are “Hypocritical Social Noises”—like campaigning politicians acting as if they listen to the people but have no intention to hear. Steps below the bottom feature those with overwhelming themes of childhood abuse and neglect—which typify the bottom line of violent criminals. The result is them getting involved in “Inside-Out” thinking whereby they have compassion for what ought to evoke condemnation—or vice versa. Steps inside a bottomless pit are those who come bearing gifts “that will take care of your needs” while using compassion as a deceptive and manipulative tool to acquire unfair advantages and put victims at unfair disadvantages—a typical today’s dishonorable scene. jabaileymd.com