Much is made of empathy – the ability to understand what another is experiencing. Yet, good torturers have empathy. They know exactly what their victims are going through.
Much is made of sympathy – feeling sorry for what another is experiencing. Yet, we all sometimes walk past beggars and the homeless with an averted gaze and quickened steps.
But it is compassion – sympathetic awareness of suffering and a desire to alleviate it – that stops us in our tracks and bids us offer our hand and open our hearts.
Empathy is a skill. Sympathy is an inclination. Compassion is a gift.