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THEY Don’t “Deserve” Compassion

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Conditional compassion isn’t authentic compassion

How many times have I heard compassionate people assert their compassion and in the same breath declare that some people don’t deserve it. 

They might be referring to people whose politics they don’t share, people who have abused animals, people who have abused other people — or who people who have abused them.

There is always someone for whom it is difficult (and feels impossible) to have compassion for. 

But the reason we have trouble having compassion for people who have harmed others is because we think that having compassion for someone means agreeing with who they are or what they say or how they behave. 

But that’s a very distorted view of compassion. 

That’s not what compassion is.

Compassion Doesn’t Condone Bad Behavior. It Helps Transcend it.

Having compassion for even the most despicable people doesn’t mean you condone or agree with what they say, think, believe, or do. 

It means you wish for them the compassion they are clearly lacking. 

It means you wish for them the capacity to feel empathy and compassion so that they will not cause more harm. 

It means you wish to fill in the lack that is missing.

Withholding the very thing that is lacking just leaves a gap where compassion should be. 

Authentic compassion has nothing to do with how someone else behaves. It has everything to do with how WE behave.  

Conditional Compassion vs. Authentic Compassion

Conditional compassion means we ask, “Are THEY kind?” “Are THEY good?” — and thus DESERVING of compassion.

Authentic compassion means we ask, “Am *I* kind?” “Am *I* good?” — and thus WILLING to offer compassion — even to people who do despicable things, even when it’s hard to do.

Compassion doesn’t condone bad behavior. It helps transcend it. 

Compassion isn’t a prize. It’s a gift. One of the biggest misconceptions about compassion is that it is something to be withheld or bestowed depending on whether or not someone “deserves” it. Conditional compassion is not authentic compassion and simply results in there being less compassion in the world.

~Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

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