On Compassion

Here’s one definition of compassion: sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others: the victims should be treated with compassion.

I wrote a Monday Morning Memo recently about achieving certain goals and a woman wrote me to tell me she was in agreement with all of my views but couldn’t implement because she was “stuck.” I took the time to write back and suggest she wasn’t “stuck” and could take action if she’d stop telling herself she was “stuck.” I don’t believe in “writer’s block” or “overwhelm” or any other excuses for inattention and lack of discipline. I DO believe in procrastination!

She told me she deserved more compassion from me, and I pointed out that I believed compassion was reserved for the sick, for those suffering loss, for those in pain, for those without easy remedy for critical issues. “Stuck” wasn’t among them. Of course she took umbrage. (Taking umbrage and departing in a huff I find to be closely related.)

This woman symbolizes victimhood for me. People would rather create imaginary reasons for not taking action—even becoming a victim of their own inactivity—rather than simply getting off their chair. (I’m trying to be polite here.)

Most of us, especially in the US, are well off compared to others. We have opportunity, resources, and support networks unless, of course, we convince ourselves that our situation is so dire that none of that can possibly help. We have a professional victim category in this country, and its embarrassing to observe.

There are many who deserve our true compassion: those who have lost jobs through no fault of their own; who are dealing with illness and family crises; who are serving our country in harm’s way; who have endured hardships beyond their resources to endure. They deserve help, not merely compassion, from the government and from all of us who can afford to provide it.

But I’m not about to cheapen that legitimate need by investing in those who feel “stuck.” But there is, fortunately, a cure for them, too. To quote the famous psychologist skit of Bob Newhart: Stop it!

© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved.

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6 Responses to On Compassion

  1. Joe Tatulli says:

    Great rock & roll Alan, you have not disappointed and you MOTIVATE me to think harder and then speak intelligently! Thank You!

  2. Alan Weiss says:

    Great attitude, Joe!

  3. Daryl Gerke says:

    “Professional Victim” indeed! I’ve known a few. Wonder if one could put that on their business card — John Doe, PV.

    Loved the rant, Alan – it made my day!

  4. Alan Weiss says:

    Pretty soon they’ll have their own trade association.

  5. Hugh says:

    I wanted to let you know that I get a lot from your postings here and your Monday Morning Memo. You are serve as an inspiration as well as a much needed kick-in-the-rear.

    Hugh

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