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.

About Iain De Jong

Leader. Edutainer. Coach. Consultant. Professor. Researcher. Blogger. Do-gooder. Potty mouth. Positive disruptor. Relentless advocate for social justice. Comedian. Dad. Minimalist. Recovering musician. Canadian citizen. International jetsetter. Living life in jeans and a t-shirt. Trying really hard to end homelessness in developed countries around the world, expand harm reduction practices, make housing happen, and reform the justice system. Driven by change, fuelled by passion. Winner of a shit ton of prestigious awards, none of which matter unless change happens in how we think about vulnerability, marginality, and inclusion.

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