Is There a Difference Between Pity and Compassion?

Philippe and Abdel– Photo by: Stefan Nimmesgern

Last night, I did a rare thing… I stopped long enough to watch a movie.  It was a French film called the The Intouchables *(Man paralyzed from the neck down by an accident, who hires a street-wise “caregiver” who shows him no pity.)  In fact, pity is no where to be found in this movie, but a few laugh-out-loud moments are there instead.  This got me thinking…

What is the difference then, between pity and true compassion?  I guess, I would say pity is an attitude or approach of “poor you, let me give you something, because I feel sorry for you.”  True compassion is more along the line of, “Bummer, what are we going to do about that?”

In my world, if more parents could really sink their teeth into this subtle, yet provocative difference; we would see a shift in more of our children’s lives, as well.  How often have you been around a “special specialist” whose “special specialty” is “special needs” children? Barf!!  Because it is dripping with the sappy, stickiness of useless pity, cleverly disguised as help.  What if instead, we found ourselves surrounded by do-ers, and world changers who turned to ask Mom and Dad the questions, “In your best intuition, what do YOU think needs done with your little one? – Start there.”  “Is what you are doing getting results? – If not, what else are we going to do instead?”

A parent knows when comfort and calming hugs are in order; and when to say, “I know you are tired, do it anyway.”  How can any specialist, therapist, or paid government employee possibly know your child better than you, Mom and Dad?  They don’t.  Which person is most likely motivated by pity?  Who is most invested in seeing your child through to adulthood?

I am reminded of the 4 men who carried their friend on a stretcher, only to be met by a crowd (Mark 2.)  They climbed, they lifted, they heaved, they pried back the roof, they lowered the friend into the room where true help (healing) was found.  This is not pity; it is the action, the stamina and the fortitude of true compassion.

There are pathways into the brain, just like there was a way into the room… and sometimes it takes leaving the crowds behind to find the way in.



*Note: Rated (R) this is NOT a movie suitable for impressionable children due to language, and some mild references to sex and drugs.

About teezmom

Bio: Dawn Segawa has worn many hats in life… classical and jazz flutist, life coach, artist, Cranio-Sacral specialist, teacher, friend, and most importantly mom, wife, and beloved daughter of the Most High.
This entry was posted in P-Parenting Basics, Q&I-Quotes & Inspiration and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Is There a Difference Between Pity and Compassion?

  1. Bernadette says:

    You nailed it ! keep up the good work. You are the “Children”s Voice “

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