Those who work on social matters – by and large – are people filled with compassion, or at least initially attracted to the work because of their strong sense of compassion.

‘Compassion’ is a beautiful noun, initially born from the Latin ‘compati’ which means “to suffer with”. In essence, compassion is solidarity coupled with tenderness and mercy, and a steadfast resolve to alleviate and conquer hardship.

Much has been written about the need for improved data in addressing and solving social issues – and that is a good thing. Much has been written about the need for strategic and informed programming and policy development grounded in evidence – and that is also a good thing. There is an increasing understanding of compassion fatigue and the impacts that has on helpers – and this is good knowledge to have.

But we should never lose sight of the compassion that drives most people to address social issues in the first place. It is for this reason that I know with absolute certainty that there are only ever going to be six types of people that need your compassion:


  •             Someone’s mother
  •             Someone’s father
  •             Someone’s sister
  •             Someone’s brother
  •             Someone’s daughter
  •             Someone’s son

These are the only people with whom we shall ever suffer with, and these will always be those most deserving of a steadfast fixity of purpose to ensure their hardship is alleviated and resolved. Keep this in mind and you can exert the fullest potential of your compassion.

Iain De Jong

About Iain De Jong

5 Responses to “Compassion”

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  1. Roger Albert says:

    Relationships, close ones, that I want to maintain as family and community are the basis of my compassion, I suppose. Extending that, realizing that everyone is someone’s brother, sister, mother, father, daughter or son, means that everyone is deserving of our compassion. Lately I’ve come to realize that the charity model is fine but it seems to have a monopoly on compassion. As I’ve come to realize the importance of social justice and speak in those terms, I’m considered an ‘activist’ and a ‘troublemaker’ rather than a compassionate, caring person interested only in ‘helping’ poor people. I’m kind of getting tired of the ‘helping’ industry out there that seems to chug along without fundamentally moving to change relationships.
    By the way, I like the new website look!

  2. Matt Schnars says:

    Keep on pushing Iain!

  3. Melisha Lassey says:

    Compassion is often forgotten when it comes to ‘self’. We get tired and experience ‘compassion fatigue’ and lose sight of the importance of what we are doing and the people we have compassion for ending up losing out too. I am an advocate for helping ourselves through forgiveness and rest. Supervising my team this past year has been a great learning experience for me as I witness compassion fatigue and burnout because compassion for self is put on the backburner. A greater depth of compassion is present for those we help when we take care of ourselves–recognizing this in itself is a significant strength we can give to others!

  4. Justin Vorbach says:

    “Compassion: It’s Better Than Sects”

    Stickers here:

  5. Amy Truesdale says:

    Compassion comes from knowing we are all connected. I keep a quote in my office that says “If you have come to help me you are wasting your time but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine then let us work together.”