I shared some about the Sunday School class that I had yesterday. Today’s post will be more thoughts evoked by that lesson.
We played a game. A large paper daisy was on the table and the task for the kids was to take turns in choosing a petal, take it, and read the word on the back of the petal. Afterwards, they would need to tell me whether it was a good thing or not, written there.
Among the words were easy ones like Love, Forgiveness, Lie, Pride…
Then we came to the word Compassion.
The thing is… in Russian, the word is literally written like “co-suffering” (сострадание) so 8-year-old Liza, whose word it turned to be, said “Well, it’s a bad thing… Suffering is not a good thing.” I tried to explain that this is actually a good thing because we show another person who is hurting that we know what it feels like and that it hurts us too, even if we’re not the ones hurt.
Co-suffering. As I pondered about this, the English one also has the “-passion” part in it, but we got so used to the word that it acquired a certain amount of fluffiness. It’s a good word and it has a good meaning, but do we really understand what the word entails?
I say “we” because way too often I am so lost between languages that they lose difference for me. If not for little Liza, I probably wouldn’t even think about the comparison between these words in English and Russian.
It makes me think of the passage where Paul talks in Galatians 2:20, that he “had been crucified with Christ.” The structure of the word there is the same as in “compassion” – it’s “co-crucified.”
Compassion… It is more than simply a “feeling of distress and pity for the suffering or misfortune of another, often including the desire to alleviate it” (as Dictionary explains it)… I think it’s more like feeling the same amount of hurt as the hurt person, if we’re talking real compassion…
What do you think? Did the word “Compassion” get white and fluffy these days?