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mardi 17 juillet 2012


I overheard someone say: If only we gave the children of African Migrants an opportunity to visit Beach Resorts, they may be favourably impressed and when they grow up they would want to come there again.
While I admired the good intentions of the person, I wondered whether this reflected a good intention wanting a better future for the African child or a hidden intention to reflect the fear of the person.
It was also a good occasion to think about PITY and COMPASSION.
Was it Ash the hero of the novel Lasso Around the Moon by Agnar Mykle with whose agony I felt PITY that made me realize that PITY and COMPASSION are two entirely different emotions?
Pity is something you feel for a lame beggar on a street corner, I vaguely remember reading. What I need is Love!
I am preparing a lecture to be given in Jakarta in a few days time on Culture Health and Happiness and the word COMPASSION buoys up a lot. What is the difference then?
When you read Macbeth as we were forced to do as school children, what was your sentiment for Lady Macbeth? Was it not pity? We you not glad that you were not like her? Were you not gripped with the fear that like Lady Macbeth, you may too have to be so deep in water that drowning is the only answer? Catharsis, Pity and Fear, the ever-present elements of the ancient (and classic) tragedies.
One other thing you can confidently say, PITY does not add to your Happiness, but COMPASSION certainly does.
HH Dalai Lama
If you want to be happy, practice compassion
If you want make another person happy, practice compassion
One could use other terms to describe parts of what could be described as Compassion, such as Empathy. I feel for you. I understand you and your suffering. You can feel without suffering yourself (that we leave to the Missionary types), also you can feel without Fear that you too descend into that suffering.
Compassion says: I am with you
Pity says: It is not my problem
Pity is a single action whereas Compassion is an on going process.
I am lucky to be associated with North American Indians; it is funny to hear some of the yanks refer to them as, “spiritually oriented people, those Indians”. But I think what our good American friends are trying to say that American Indians embody a compassionate culture. Mitakuye Oyasin, we are all related is something you hear very often in the Indian country. The common good is preserved by actions protecting the individuals.
Compassion always includes the question, what can I do for you?
In fact, in the mind of an indigenous person, what I can do for you is social norm.
Compare this to the western concept of Networking, in which you make friends and “connect” so that others can be of use to you.

How one day, after coming home hungry from an unsuccessful walrus-hunting expedition, an INUIT found one of the successful hunters dropping off several hundred pounds of meat [for him]. He thanked him profusely. The man objected indignantly:

" 'Up in our country we are human!' said the hunter. 'And since we are human we help each other. We don't like to hear anybody say thanks for that. What I get today you may get tomorrow. Up here we say that by gifts one makes slaves and by whips one makes dogs.'