Although being compassionate has a distinctly emotive quality, it is probably better to explain it as a set of behaviours that come about because of the emotional connections we have with ourselves, with other people and with the wider world around us. Showing compassionate behaviour is often lauded because it relies on wisdom and a deeper emotional awareness than unsympathetic people are capable of. In some cases, a lack of compassionate behaviour might be because someone is quite simply selfish. However, the inability to reason from an emotional standpoint may also be accounted for from certain mental or behavioural disorders.
That said, most people are compassionate to some degree or other and are often touched by the compassionate behaviour they receive. Anyone who has injured themselves and been helped by strangers will recognise just how life-affirming it can be to receive such assistance. It lets us know that we are not alone in the world even if we do not have our nearest and dearest around us to support us.
Although there are some cruel people and regimes which have disavowed compassion as a weakness that should not be tolerated, there are many more people who advocate for it as something that is of benefit to society. Many religious leaders have talked about the healing power of forgiveness
, for example, both on the person who is forgiven and the bestower of such forgiveness. This redemptive quality can be seen in every aspect of compassionate behaviour. In other words, being compassionate is not only good for the person who has their suffering acknowledged and relieved but for the person who has exhibited the compassionate behaviour in the first place.