There was an error in this gadget

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

SPIRIT 2-fer: Caring and Compassion

My previous post got me thinking about the subject of the next grace on the list, as well as one several steps down, and how they fit together. As I mentioned before, there may be such a thing as caring too much - when one's thoughts and worries about others begin to overshadow the concerns of oneself to a point where it becomes damaging. This is the opposite extreme to being entirely self-absorbed, and just as harmful to oneself and, I believe, the world at large.

Compassion is often grouped together with caring as being indistinguishable, but I propose a considerable difference in my personal definitions of the words. Where caring is the thought alone, maybe with the word to go along with it, compassion is thought, word and deed in one - and therein lies a world of difference. Caring alone, as good as my intentions are and as much as it springs from my love for my friends, leads to nail-biting and hair-tearing and more sleepless nights than I care to admit. I can speak of my concerns to other friends, but even after pouring my heart out, I always seem to come away with it even fuller and heavier than before. Compassion, on the other hand, with its inclusion of action, gives me a real outlet rather than just temporary relief.

To put my definition of these terms and two previous ones more succinctly, caring is to compassion as awareness is to activism. The girl who is merely aware and caring reads an article about war or a worrying letter from a friend and cries. The girl who is active and compassionate puts the paper or letter down, gets up, and goes to a peace rally or speaks to the friend. I want to be the second girl.

No comments: