Attorney Paul Lorelli presented the table topic for March 2018 on the subject of “Compassion.” These short reviews are just a snapshot from one of four discussions. Each discussion is a free-wheeling conversation of thought and reflection. As a result, one review based on one meeting, such as this one, omits insights from the other meetings.
Compassion is to enter into the suffering of another person with kindness. Compassion sometimes challenges us to look deeper into why a person may seem unworthy of our compassion. There is almost always some trauma in a person’s history that is a factor in why he or she has acted harmfully. Once we understand a person’s history, we can deplore the action, but still feel the sorrow of what caused the offender to act.
Compassion and mercy are closely related. While justice calls for strict application of the rules of judgment and punishment, compassion may lead us to a deeper understanding of the right response to wrong conduct. Compassion does not mean showing mercy by setting aside the rules of right conduct, but it can soften the application of the rules in particular circumstances. Such balance requires wisdom.
The story of Jonah illustrates how we may fight the call to be compassionate. God loved the people of Ninevah, even in their sin. But Jonah wanted nothing to do with them. He felt they did not deserve God’s forgiveness and healing. Jonah’s eventual obedience to mediate God’s compassion opened the doors of salvation for the entire City. We too are to put aside our harsh human judgment to allow room for God’s spirit of compassion.