“For there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes” (from The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera).
One story has stayed with me since I read it in January this year. I was so deeply touched by the resilience of this 66 year-old man who, despite his sons being killed by the Taliban, has remained neutral to the war in his country and continues to ferry bodies of the dead from both sides of the conflict.
I don’t believe war is ever won through force because its deep scars become entrenched in the psyche and induce ongoing suffering so that “victory” through war can be only an illusion.
But acts of deep compassion overwhelm and have the power to transform. I cannot feel my own suffering when I hear this story – it is replaced by the imagination of his own.
It will at times require an almost unimaginable capacity for empathy, but whether in the day to day or in the face of deep ideological divides, compassion should not ever be underestimated as a tool – or weapon – to resolving conflict.