Of all the virtues I guess this is the one I need most practise with. It's easy to have compassion for those you love and care about but it's not so easy to have it for those who have wronged you or you simply don't know. It's a battle I often face and I wonder if others do too, or do they just turn their empathetic feelings off and feel nothing?
It leads me to that old legend which I believe is a modern interpretation but nonetheless provides a good metaphor for this struggle;
An old Cherokee grandfather was telling his grandson that inside each person are two wolves, a black one which is evil and a white one which is good, and they fight for dominion over the persons character.
"The black one," said the grandfather, "is full of hate, jealousy, pride, anger, bitterness, betrayal, resentment, ego, pain and deceit.
The white one on the other hand is full of love, forgiveness, understanding, gratitude, diligence, honour, kindness, benevolence, empathy and compassion"
"But grandfather, said the boy "which one wins?"
The grandfather looked solemnly at the child and said " whichever one you feed"
Which one do you feed?
I love when people who have been through hell, walk out of the fire carrying buckets of water for those still consumed by the flames.