这类的问题表明我们需要以批判的眼光审视之前理解的怜悯。英文compassion这个词来源于拉丁文pati 和 cum，它们合起来意味着“与……一同受苦”。怜悯要求我们去到受伤之处、进到疼痛的处、去分担伤心、恐惧、迷茫、痛苦。怜悯挑战我们与不幸的人一同哀号，与孤寂的人一同哀悼，与流泪的人一同哀哭。怜悯需要我们向贫穷人作贫穷人，向弱势群体作弱势之人，向无权利者作无权利者。怜悯就是完完全全地进入作为人所经历的种种境遇。我们若这样看待怜悯，就会清楚地发现其中所蕴含的不只是一般的善良温厚。把怜悯理解为“一起受苦”时，很自然地会激起我们内心强大的阻力甚至是反抗。我们会想说：“这是自虐，是受虐狂，是对受苦的病态喜好，是变态的追求。”承认这种反抗心理，认识到我们并不想要、也不向往受苦，对我们来说是很重要的。正相反，我们对于这些唯恐避之不及。因此，怜悯并不是我们的本能反应。我们总会逃避痛苦，并且看那些甘愿受苦的都不是正常人，或者说至少他们不是寻常人。
The word compassion generally evokes positive feelings. We like to think of ourselves as compassionate people who are basically good, gentle, and understanding. We more or less assume that compassion is a natural response to human suffering. Who would not feel compassion for a poor old man, a hungry child, a paralyzed soldier, a fearful girl? It seems almost impossible to imagine that compassion does not belong among our most self-evident human qualities. Do we not feel deeply offended when someone accuses us of lacking compassion? Does that not sound as if we are accused of a lack of humanity? Indeed, we immediately identify being compassion with being human being. An uncompassionate human being seems as inconceivable as a nonhuman human being.
But, if being human and being compassionate are the same, then why is humanity torn by conflict, war, hatred, and oppression? Why, then, are there so many people in our midst who suffer from hunger, cold, and lack of shelter? Why, then, do differences in race, sex, or religion prevent us from approaching each other and forming community? Why, then, is our world in such chaos?
Questions such as these suggest that we need to take a critical look at our understanding of compassion. The word compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum, which together mean “to suffer with.” Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, the powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human. When we look at compassion this way, it becomes clear that something more is involved than a general kindness or tenderheartedness. It is not surprising that compassion, understood as suffering with, often invokes in us a deep resistance and even protest. We are inclined to say, “This is self-flagellation, this is masochism, this is a morbid interest in pain, this is a sick desire.” It is important for us to acknowledge this resistance and to recognize that suffering is not something we desire or to which we are attracted. On the contrary, it is something we want to avoid at all cost. Therefore, compassion in not among our most natural responses. We are pain-avoiders and we consider anyone who feels attracted to suffering abnormal, or at least very unusual.