Is it wrong to feel sorry for someone?

Discussion in 'Spiritual Discussions' started by amyorama, Mar 22, 2010.

  1. amyorama

    amyorama Amity's Focus Member

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    My friend says yes. She tells me I am being arrogant when I feel sorry for someone because I am thinking that my place in life is better than theirs. And I have to agree: when I donated to Haitian relief it was because I felt sorry for the people. I can not imagine losing loved ones and a home in an earthquake. I definitely counted my blessings and gave. She said my motivation was wrong because of my value judgements. I see her point but...anyone care to chime in?
  2. spinknottle

    spinknottle Active Member

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    I would say that maybe you were trying to be empathetic when donating to the relief fund rather than sympathetic :)
  3. Dannielle

    Dannielle Princess Nimble-Thimble

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    Ummm...I think it's fair to say that your situation IS better than theirs. It's not arrogance. It's compassion.
  4. Natalia

    Natalia New Member

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    I think your reason for donating is fine. Maybe your wording seemed off to her (which is none of her business). It sounds to me like you gave from a place of love and compassion.
  5. teathymes

    teathymes mama pajama

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    so what does your friend propose? I think empathy and compassion are two of the greatest human emotions.
  6. Katie

    Katie Amity's Focus Member

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    Yeah, I thought that was called compassion too.

    Now, if you wanted to spread the love in the endangered tribes (that have survived w/o "our help" for centuries) of Peru and Brazil, yeah, I'd say you're projecting your values/judgment.

    Disaster victims and a way of life. Apples and oranges.
  7. amyorama

    amyorama Amity's Focus Member

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    Would your answers be different if it were a homeless/addict person?
  8. Sunflower_Momma

    Sunflower_Momma "Christian"

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    What everyone else said. Empathy and compassion are the two traits I value most.

    And, as Dannielle said, your life IS objectively better. But, feeling as if your life is better than someone else does not mean that you think your worth is more than someone else. Two different things.
  9. Sunflower_Momma

    Sunflower_Momma "Christian"

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    No.

    I have deep empathy for others - even if their choices are not the choices that I would wish for them to make. My worth is no more than the homeless or addicted person and they are no less worthy of my compassion and respect.
  10. Katie

    Katie Amity's Focus Member

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    I agree completely.
  11. xt

    xt Active Member

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    I agree with R. I actually see this in the UU principles, too: Affirming and promoting the inherent worth and dignity of every person; Justice, equity and compassion in human relations...

    I've been taught all my life that compassion is a good thing. I think pity might be what your friend is confusing with compassion and empathy. I wouldn't want to be pitied, because to me, that implies a power differential and a feeling of superiority.
  12. tracey

    tracey no worries on my mind

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    i can't think of many more things in life more worthwhile as character traits than compassion and empathy.

    i can't even imagine a world in which either or both of those would be bad? i can't and am not sure i would want to try very hard to do so.

    i value them immensely in my own life and intentionally surround myself, with those closest to me, with people who value them as well. i fervently hope to instill them in my sons.
  13. annsni

    annsni Amity's Focus Member

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    If it is wrong, then God is wrong:

    Isaiah 49:13 "Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted."

    Matthew 9:36 "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."

    Matthew 14:14 "When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick."

    Matthew 15:32 "Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.""

    Luke 7:13 "And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep.""
  14. Katie

    Katie Amity's Focus Member

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    I actually spent some time thinking on this....trying to figure out her words/message.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with something (haiti, in this example) that makes a person pause and count blessings.

    I also don't think there's anything wrong with giving....as long as it's given without condition.

    Does she not ever pray for someone, wish away someone's pain, or hope good things for another? Even if asked to do so by said person?

    If the motivation to give was to get something back, even a pat on the head from God Himself, then I can probably see where she's coming from. Otherwise, I can't get a bead on her thinking.

    hmmmm...interesting suggestion.
  15. MissNairne

    MissNairne All new, with added NAK!

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    lk
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2011
  16. Natalia

    Natalia New Member

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    I don't understand why your friend is judging your motivation so harshly.

    Sometimes it is contrast (like seeing a person out on the street or the devastation of a natural disaster) that shows us (reminds us) that there is much to be grateful for in our own lives. How is noticing contrast equal to feeling superior?

    We notice things around us. Being more grateful, loving, compassionate, or saying a prayer or offering support to one in need are good, natural results of such noticing. Our noticing does not imply that we see ourselves as superior or those in a less fortunate position as inferior.
  17. teathymes

    teathymes mama pajama

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    I am really trying to figure where she is coming from - all I can think of is 'isn't is arrogant to accuse someone of being arrogant when they give to someone who has less?'. lol

    So, what does she propose? How does she rectify it, if you can't give out of arrogance (what we view as compassion) do we just not give?
  18. irinam

    irinam Amity's Focus Member

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    :agreed:

    Would you/she feel bad (misunderstood, offended, what-have-you) if you (hope not!) were on the other end and somebody gave help?

    I certainly would not. I would be grateful and thankful. I think that disaster victims are too.

    Obviously then, the charitable giving falls under category "do upon others as you wish to be done upon yourself".

    Quite honestly, I do not understand your friend's logic. on this subject.
  19. freedomlover

    freedomlover ReaderOfThreads

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    When someone is suffering either physically or emotionally it is not selfish to want to help them

    It is human

    We are human

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