The Choice of Compassion: Cultivating Empathy

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 583 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2024

Words: 583|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2024

Compassion is not an inherent trait, but rather a choice that individuals must consciously make. It is a feeling that arises when one is confronted with the suffering of others, motivating them to alleviate the anguish and bring relief to those in need. The plight of the homeless serves as a stark reminder of the world's torments, and witnessing their reality can inspire others to cultivate compassion, to become better individuals, and to lend a helping hand.

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Works Cited

  1. Ascher, B. (2017). "On Compassion".

In her essay "On Compassion," Ascher (2017) sheds light on the treatment of the homeless in New York City, questioning whether acts of compassion are driven by fear or empathy. Ascher recounts an encounter where she observed a woman impatiently offering a dollar to a homeless man, describing her gesture as "bearing the dollar like a cross" (Ascher, 2017, para. 5). This portrayal suggests that individuals who appear compassionate may be motivated by fear, leading them to perform such actions.

Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, is the precursor to compassion. Ascher (2017) asserts that when society becomes familiar with adversity, empathy emerges. This understanding highlights the importance of comprehending the experiences and emotions of others in order to cultivate compassion. However, it is important to note that compassion is distinct from fear, empathy, or even pity. Ascher (2017) presents an example of a shop worker feeding a homeless man who promptly leaves after receiving the food. Ascher ponders whether the worker's actions stem from a desire to rid the premises of the presence of this individual wrapped in a stained blanket with an unpleasant odor, or from genuine pity (Ascher, 2017). This scenario exemplifies the complex motivations behind offering help to the homeless and underscores the need to recognize the different emotions that may drive compassionate acts.

The presence of the homeless is evident everywhere, from the streets to the subway, and even by the churches. Growing up in a household that values compassion, I have been taught to extend a helping hand to those in need. Regular encounters with homeless individuals by the subway entrance have reinforced this lesson, leading me to give money to them. These experiences have taught me that misfortune can befall anyone and that society should exhibit compassion towards the less fortunate, striving to alleviate their suffering.

The central message conveyed by Ascher in "On Compassion" is that compassion is not inherent, but rather acquired through an understanding of the diversity present in society. Overcoming fear and pity requires erasing prejudices and truly empathizing with those in need. While everyone possesses the capacity for compassion, not all are able to tap into it. The more one witnesses the suffering of the homeless, the more apparent the need for compassion becomes, ultimately inspiring others to act with greater empathy and kindness.

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In conclusion, compassion is a conscious choice that individuals must make in the face of others' suffering. The homeless serve as a powerful reminder of the world's torments, compelling individuals to cultivate compassion, become better individuals, and extend a helping hand. Ascher's essay "On Compassion" sheds light on the motivations behind acts of compassion, highlighting the importance of empathy and understanding. Society must recognize that compassion is not an inherent trait but a learned behavior that can be nurtured through exposure to the adversity faced by the less fortunate. Only by erasing prejudices and truly empathizing with those in need can individuals transcend fear and pity, embracing the true essence of compassion.

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Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

The Choice of Compassion: Cultivating Empathy. (2024, February 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
“The Choice of Compassion: Cultivating Empathy.” GradesFixer, 12 Feb. 2024,
The Choice of Compassion: Cultivating Empathy. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
The Choice of Compassion: Cultivating Empathy [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Feb 12 [cited 2024 Feb 25]. Available from:
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