Antonyms of Compassion
Sometimes the antonyms of a word can help as much as the synonyms when we want to go deeper, and compassion has some frightening antonyms.
Powerthesauras.org, an online crowd-sourced thesaurus, gives 135 antonyms for compassion, including: cruelty, indifference, inhumanity, apathy and barbarity.
Why don’t you take a few moments to hop on that site and give a few thumbs up to the words you think are best representative of the opposite of compassion? And think about the ways that compassion’s opposites work out in our daily lives…
I would guess that few people wake in the morning and say, “Think I’ll sharpen up my barbarity, today!” or “It’s a beautiful day for apathy!” And yet, many of us will do exactly those things. We will be apathetic about the suffering of people near us and far from us. We’ll act like barbarians. Need proof? Just hop on a news site, any news site, and read a story like the recent road rage tragedy in Arizona, as we roam the streets screaming at one another and brandishing guns. This to so tragic and sad.
We allow life’s hurts and disappointments to starve out our compassion and feed the apathy and the inhumanity in us that leads to suffering in our lives and the lives of people around us. Fear, anger, biases, frustrations, fatalism and indignations feed our cruelty and our indifference. These well-fed emotions and negative spiritual movements within us translate into action and inaction, and to suffering.
Today, grab onto an intention to choke off those negatives streams. Work to dam up the flow of anger, fear and frustration. Work to free the streams of awareness and empathy for the people around you. Feed the love. Here’s some compassionate things to do that will help choke off the negative, some good starting steps:
- Pray for God’s help to see people’s beauty.
- Begin to forgive someone who has hurt you. Take beginning steps to forgive, even if you just start with imagining what life might be like after forgiveness takes place.
- Listen to someone you don’t agree with and try to understand their side of an issue or an argument… at least try to relate to their feelings and values.
- Spend a day intentionally rejecting the harsh and negative rants and memes that clog our social media streams and divide us against each other.
- Be honest and face one of your strongest prejudices with an intention to lessen that hostility and find goodness in those people.
You might have noticed that I didn’t say, “take baby steps.” We aren’t babies. We’re grown adults with intelligence and volition. We should be mature and able to reflect on the good and the bad in life, and choose the good. We should be able to recognize the destructiveness of the negative and choose the positive. We don’t take or need to take baby steps. We need to take the starting steps and the ongoing steps of thoughtful engaged adults.
When we feed our compassion we starve the cruelty and apathy. That’s a fast track to a better brighter you, a better brighter me, and a better brighter world.