‘At its root meaning of “to suffer with,” compassion challenges our tendency to flinch away from life’s too-tender parts. I know this much: when I acknowledge my own pain, I am much less squeamish about drawing nearer to yours. I see to acquire my compassion piecemeal, hurt by hurt. After a bad sprain and time spent on crutches, I became more sympathetic to the locomotion-impaired - the lame and the wheelchair bound, those who hobbled on canes and walkers.
Perhaps Thomas Aquinas was not far off when he claimed. “No one becomes compassionate unless he suffers.” I take this less as a mandate fro medieval masochism than an indecorous call to embrace our own authentic experience. If we’re not at home with the depth of our feelings, we’re likely to skirt the deep feelings of others.’
- Marc Ian Barasch, Searching for the Heart of Compassion.