Compassion, a way to change the world

Compassion, a way to change the world

Compassion, one of the most necessary feelings and positive emotions in human beings is slowly running out. With an outstanding increase in the suffering amongst people, compassion is disappearing. David DeSteno, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, states this phenomenon as “compassion fade”.

 

Through media we get to know about the rise of natural disasters, political movements that take violent turns and mass migrations. This brings us face to face with the reality and the crisis that our world is facing every passing day. An analysis of data concerning 14000 students shows how over three decades, compassion has been slowly running out.

 

But DeSteno has an optimistic view of the situation and believes that he can revive compassion in humans again. He believes that compassion is perceived more in people who have grown accustomed to adversities in their own life. A person who has experienced major trauma like death of a loved one, violence, or serious illness, is subjected to be more compassionate than the rest of the crowd. This is because of the empathy in them and how they are appreciative of the small acts of kindness that help in such situations.

 

For conclusive proof of their research, DeSteno and his colleague Lin employed a group of 82 people who were asked to read an article how the civil war in West Darfur region in Sudan affected children. The team of people where asked to rate their compassion after being shown a picture of one suffering child and another picture of eight suffering children. They were also asked to fill out a survey on the adversities that they have faced in life so far.

 

The conclusion was such. People who had not experienced many adversities in life felt less empathetic for the group of eight children but it was contrary for the group of participants who had been through many tough situations in life.

 

Molly Callahan reports that not much was found from this experiment. So, they performed another one to come to a final conclusion. This time, the results were much more positive than the last one. They concluded that meditation or training courses that enhance empathy can be of huge help to people. It will also develop a sense of ability in individuals that might help.

 

Subarna Basu

Subarna Basu
Subarna Basu

pami.tuli@gmail.com

A final year English Honors student, waiting for Godot.

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