Without embarking on debates about who and for whom this feeling has been expressed, we would like to highlight three meanings (conceived so far) with which the term has been interpreted in these days of emergency.
First of all, compassion in the sense of “suffer with”. The social distance imposed on people has never prevented each of us from exercising emotional closeness with our beloved ones, friends, people who have crossed our lives. The suffering of others has become ours, that of each one of us, and in many cases, this affective sharing has made people less alone, both those who are sick and those who are alone and isolated because of the quarantine.
The second definition of compassion is according to its original meaning of “pietas”, indicating in this case devotion for and respect to the others. We think about those who are sick, those who have been affected by the virus, including the elderly. Elderly people who have not only been the most affected by the virus but – tragically – also the lowest priority in the management of the pandemic. These last few weeks have shown how high this value is on the list of professionals who have worked on caring for people. It is clear that for them respect for others and devotion to humanity are feelings that have bypassed any personal interest (health care workers have operated at the expense of their own health) and that has made them always consider sick and dead as people, not as numbers.
Finally, com-passion as “shared passion”. The incredible zeal of everyone, in public and private, in professional and voluntary work, has been the protagonist of the care of people both in daily and ordinary attentions, and in the extraordinary effort of these days.
For tomorrow, this threefold momentum, of which humanity has shown itself capable, should keep its bar oriented to those who, in a similar way to the victims of these days, suffer daily far from the spotlight. This emergency is showing us that by orienting ourselves passionately on those in need we can defeat any invisible enemy. Today this enemy is Covid 19, but we still have among us other emergency diseases such as poverty, discrimination, social injustice, marginality, hatred, ignorance, fanaticism, and many others. It is with synergistic passion (con-passion) and compassionate spirit that these diseases of our society can be fought and perhaps, one day, eradicated.