Journal Entry 6-29-20
So today I went back into The Divine Comedy and re-read lines 13 to 21 of Canto IV. It says as follows"
"Now let us go into the blind world waiting here below us"
"I will lead the way and you shall follow."
"How can I go this way when you are my strength in doubt turn pale with terror?"
"The pain of these below us here drains the color from my face for pity, and leaves this pallor you mistake for fear."
It's interesting how Dante writes this section. The focus on pity instead of fear is very profound. Pitying someone is to acknowledge their suffering without wanting to fix it. Throughout the journey through the inferno, Virgil and Dante pity many along the way, but they know their punishment is just and righteous. I wonder if pity also includes the precursor of understanding what that suffering feels like that. That particular suffering of this person that they are pitying.
It seems as that might be the case. I was reading about the differences between pity and empathy and I came across this picture that stated the order of engagement as thus:
1. Pity - I acknowledge your suffering
2. Sympathy - I care about your suffering
3. Empathy - I feel your suffering
4. Compassion - I want to relieve your suffering
This seems very true except I think there are variations of compassion that can be addressed here. I think that compassion can be construed as I want to relieve your suffering but in an indirect way. Sympathy is usually for someone is far away from your realm of influence. Empathy could be for someone you understand their story of, but can't necessarily change. Compassion is more of a mission statement than a feeling. It's more of a direct action if implemented.
Out of the four, I think for those who have a long journey ahead of them like the one Dante takes, it is only possible to have pity for those you acknowledge are suffering. Perhaps in order to make great things happen, you have to only allow yourself the feeling of pity in that you can show compassion in the end. Maybe the true sense of compassion would be to pity all of those you come across and then when you have the influence to change all of their lives collectively and individually, then you can show compassion.
Until then, compassion is just virtue signaling. Which is simply a form of lying about your compassion. This is interesting to think of in terms of the social justice warrior types. Real change and real compassion might quite be possibly only truthful and righteous when you can cross through all of hell in one piece and then show compassion down on to those who are in purgatory, those who are in hell but are still hopeful. Maybe compassion should only be granted to those in purgatory and that those in hell only can receive pity?