Monday, November 30, 2009

A note on compassion

This will be a quiet week for posts on this blog, mainly links to other writing.

Having completed the second post on Don Aitkin's book What was it all for?  I woke up this morning thinking about one issue.

At the end of the book, Don talks about the need for Australians to have a conversation about a new Australian dream to replace the now defunct social compact that used to underpin Australian life.

I woke up thinking about the importance of compassion.

The word most commonly used in recent years to describe Australia is tolerant. Australians are, or are at least meant to be, tolerant. I think that this is important, especially at a time society is becoming in some ways less tolerant.

However, tolerance of itself simply means accepting difference. Compassion is a stronger word because it means understanding other's misfortunes and indeed errors.

A society without compassion may be succesful in economic terms, but it will be poorer in human terms.     


Kanani said...

I was listening last week to a scientist who had devoted his life to studying compassion. He thought --we teach people manners and morés, why not compassion? Through daily practice of acknowledging the things they are grateful for, compassion generally followed along. Very interesting man ...wish I remembered his name, but I'm grateful for hearing and retaining this knowledge!

Jim Belshaw said...

I found this nice comment, Kanani, because it reinforced my point. I think that we can and should teach compassion. Pity you can't remember the bloke's name.