Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Compassion Fatigue

I have been thinking about the word compassion recently

Compassion is the emotion that I feel a lot, compassion is prompted by the pain of others. For me compassion has to be an active emotion it's different than empathy, compassion leads to the desire to help others.

I read this about compassionon wikipedia "In ethical terms, the various expressions down the ages of the so-called Golden Rule embody by implication the principle of compassion: Do to others as you would have done to you. Ranked a great virtue in numerous philosophies, compassion is considered in all the major religious traditions as among the greatest of virtues."

Various things move people with compassion, drunk, helpless, lost people tend to move me with compassion. Probably because I've been there, I've wet myself, soiled myself, puked all over myself, fallen asleep in stupid places and generally got very messy when younger. In many ways this helps me although many of the people who work for us have never been in this state, they still find themselves moved with compassion. It is not unusual for someone on a team to break down in tears after a night on the street.

I watched a TV programme about prison last night and found it very moving. A young inmate met with two parents who had lost their child in a street fight, they talked and challenged him, he responded really well, at the end of the meeting the father of the dead child got up and just hugged the inmate, he was a big man and the inmate was a boy, he just held the boy in his arms. I found it very moving, I don't know whether I could have done that, but it moved me to tears

I don't ever want to become hard to what we do here, there are moments when you need to protect yourself but generally it should be compassion that drives us to do what we do.

I think we can get fatigued with all that goes on in the world, various appeals, loads of disasters, charities we want to support, things we see and situations we experience. It can overwhelm us.

I love the words of jesus "Come to me all you who are weak and heavy laden and I will give you rest" when my compassion starts to be fatigued I go to Him, so that I don't grow weary and lose heart.

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