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An discussion on compassion as an important value in china

About Us What is compassion — and why is it important?

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Most of us value compassion and agree that it is important both in our own lives as well as in society more generally. Undeniably, compassion is also part of our everyday experience of being human. We love and care for our children; confronted with someone in pain, we instinctively feel for that person; when someone reaches out to us in a time of distress we feel touched.

Most of us would also agree that compassion has something to do with what it means to lead a good life. Even in the contested political arena, compassion is one value that both sides of the spectrum are eager to claim.

Despite our widely shared experience and beliefs about compassion, we fail to give it a central role in our lives and in our society.

In our contemporary culture, we tend to have a rather confused relationship with values like kindness and compassion. In the secular West, we lack a coherent cultural framework for articulating what compassion is and how it works.

At the other extreme, some people elevate these qualities to such heights that they are out of reach for most of us, possible only for exceptional individuals like Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, and the Dalai Lama.

Compassion then becomes something to be admired at a distance in great beings, but not relevant to our everyday lives.

How can I be proud of my China if we are a nation of 1.4bn cold hearts?

At its core, compassion is a response to the inevitable reality of our human condition—our experience of pain and sorrow. Compassion offers the possibility of responding to suffering with understanding, patience, and kindness rather than, say, fear and repulsion.

As such, compassion lets us open ourselves to the reality of suffering and seek its alleviation.

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Compassion is what connects the feeling of empathy to acts of kindness, generosity, and other expressions of our altruistic tendencies. When compassion arises in us in the face of need or suffering, three things happen almost instantaneously: Today, scientists are beginning to map the neurobiological basis of compassion and explore its deep evolutionary roots.

  • The pressing question is how to make people act in cases of emergency and the solution is law;
  • Robert Youngson, an anaesthesiologist, has launched a campaign to make healthcare more compassionate;
  • Back in the early 1980s, when I worked at a rocket factory in Nanjing, one of my colleagues, a married man, was caught having an affair with an unmarried woman;
  • Even in the contested political arena, compassion is one value that both sides of the spectrum are eager to claim.

As a society, we have long ignored the fundamental role our compassion instinct plays in defining our nature and behaviour. We have bought into a popular narrative that seeks to explain all our behavior through the prism of competition and self-interest.

Social suffering and the culture of compassion in a morally divided China.

This is the story we have been telling about ourselves. The thing about a story like this is that it tends to be self-fulfilling. When our story says that we are at heart selfish and aggressive creatures, we assume that every man is for himself.

Compassion: what it is and why it matters in medicine

And so we relate to others with apprehension, fear, and suspicion, instead of with fellow feeling and a sense of connection. By contrast, if our story says that we are social creatures endowed with instincts for compassion and kindness, and that as deeply interdependent beings our welfare is intertwined, this totally changes the way we view — and behave in — the world.

So the stories we tell about ourselves do matter, quite profoundly so.