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5 most common mistakes of men - Mistake # 1

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Tonix777
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Mistake Number 1

"Mistake Compassion with Pity"

(The ugliness of pity-based altruism)

Or perhaps the correct phrase would be "The ugliness of altruism-based pity", because for me pity is ugly.

And this is a clear case covered by the statement I made in the introduction: words used for everything become confuse and very influenced by the mainstream ideas of the time: Pity and compassion seems to be synonyms nowadays, but even when (thanks in part to long bad use) the etymology is not very clear, they are not.

Pity is more close to mercy and misery, it is a feeling born from the supposed superiority of the non-suffering over the (supposed) suffering who is seen as permanently helpless and unable to recover by himself. Pity is normally a feeling without respect for the others. And there is a lot of people that like to feel pity just to feel somehow superior to others and then having a reason in their mediocre lives to increase a little their low self-steem by sacrificing themselves to "help" those others while in reality they are only helping their own poor and guilty souls to survive one more day trough their boring lives.

Compassion on the other hand is a feeling more born from sympathy, from identification with other's temporary misfortune, from identification with his merits and his struggle for improving. Born from the though "it could be me", born from realizing that finally we all are on the same game: The Life.

All struggling for survive, for happiness, for our particular values. Each one with his own good or bad fortune, abilities, willpower, energy, intelligence, but finally all under the same rules: The Reality.

So now when I see a hard-worker digging a hole in the street sweating under the hot sun of the summer for a small salary, I no longer see him as a victim of some obscure and unfair "system", I see him with his dignity, with respect. He is earning his living as we all do, doing his effort to survive, to feed his children, taking his risks everyday or not, as we all do.

Are you completely safe from dying tomorrow? No. Not even the richest man in the World is. Not even the wisest or the stronger. Not you, not me. So why do you feel pity for this man working on the street? Are you so superior? Is your life so much better? By which standards? Yours? Ok congratulations if you are better or happier from your own point of view, but pity is still an ugly feeling, respect would be much better.

Respect for yourself and for every man trying to win his own rewards in this old game called life.

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Seems like you're saying (and I agree) that pity is a sort of sympathy you feel for a person of thing of little or no value to you, and compassion is a sympathy you feel for a person of moderate or high value to you. In other words, you might pity a criminal, (though you should not act on that pity) but you are compassionate for the construction worker, or your friend.

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Seems like you're saying (and I agree) that pity is a sort of sympathy you feel for a person of thing of little or no value to you, and compassion is a sympathy you feel for a person of moderate or high value to you. In other words, you might pity a criminal, (though you should not act on that pity) but you are compassionate for the construction worker, or your friend.

Well... I probably wouldn't feel pity for a criminal (jut hate or precaution maybe)

But I make emphasis in that pity is a feeling that makes your soul "smaller", since I consider it is used by mediocre people as a way to feed their self-esteem without any other merit than some supposed "superiority" compared to the person/s they are feeling pity for.

On the other hand I am also against the general idea spread by some of the mainstream religions that pity is some kind of "positive feeling" which is supposed to be the base of altruism that is also a virtue for these religions, but the root of several evils for Objectivism

Perhaps most people were told since childhood that they "have to feel" pity, it is something like an "unnatural" feeling...

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