The Art of Compassion

Compassion is the solution for the social ills and divisions that often characterize debates on campus.

The Place of Peace

By Philip Shelton

It has been about a year since “civil discourse” entered the Furman lexicon. With the election cycle over, things seem to be more civil now that there is less to quarrel over. Yet, the seething intolerance and hatred have merely sunk to the depths of our hearts, waiting to be dredged up once more, be it societal shifts or campus occurrences. The problem remains. What is to be done?

My solution, compassion, transcends ethnicity, politics, and religion, promising success to anyone, anytime, and anywhere. No matter whom you are or what you have done, compassion rests with every breath. Compassion allows us to go beyond mere tolerance and embrace difference, dispelling hatred and replacing it with kindness and acceptance. Yet, how does one be compassionate?

Certainly, compassion seems like a lofty goal suited for Jesus Christ, the Prophet Mohammed, Gandhi, and the Buddha but not for the ordinary person. Luckily, compassion starts as a seed, and if cultivated, it shall reach the heights of such paragons. Nourish the seed of compassion by recognizing the “other” as a person with hopes, feelings, and sorrows like you. Know that people are not mere objects but are intrinsically valuable. Act for their sake, expecting nothing in return.

With this mindset, hold the door for a straggler in the distance, offer your place in line to a stranger, or other compassionate acts. Through these actions, a wellspring of compassion is built, diluting the hatred deep in our being, one act at a time.

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