Compassion and Human Development

When we realise that the source of happiness does not lie in material possessions and entertainment we can focus into developing deeper well-being.  Recent research into a biological basis for compassion has revealed that our brains are wired up to respond to suffering and to do so makes us feel good.  Scientific findings now forcefully challenge the view that selfishness, greed, and competitiveness lie at the core of human behaviour, the products of our evolution.  Instead it appears that compassion is deeply rooted in our brains, our bodies, and in the most basic ways we communicate. 1   A sense of compassion fosters compassionate behaviour and helps shape what we teach children.  Yet, simply realizing this is not enough; we must also make room for our compassionate impulses to flourish.   Similarly, when we accept Jesus’ teaching that seeking the good of others is the quickest path to true joy, we can begin to cultivate a more compassionate culture. ‘ (Veritatis Splendor)

“We might ask … whether mass communication directed to millions of people who experience themselves as small, insignificant, powerless individuals does not in fact do more harm than good.  When there is no community that can mediate between world needs and personal responses, the burden of the world can only be a crushing burden.  When the pains of the world are presented to people who are already overwhelmed by the problems in their small circle of family or friends, how can we hope for a creative response?  What we can expect is the opposite of compassion: numbness and anger.  (So) be compassionate as God is compassionate.”  2

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 ‘The Compassionate Instinct’:  Dacher Kettner. 2004
 ‘Compassion – A Reflection on the Christian Life’: Henri Nouwen.  2006