Betty W. Phillips, Ph.D., Psychology
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A World of Kindness, Empathy and Compassion



                                         A World of Kindness, Empathy and Compassion


Several weeks ago I got caught up in responding to some of the heated comments and animosity I read in Chatham Chatlist posts. In response I wrote my own post about kindness and compassion. Thoughts about this issue would not go away and I began to ponder what it would be like if the whole world were filled with these wonderful sentiments. I love to read about what heaven would be like once I (hopefully) find my way there as I know it would be filled with love, kindness and compassion for all.  So bear with me while I indulge in these wondrous thoughts.


Kindness and compassion involves understanding and responding empathetically to the needs and desires of others as well as your own. If you truly understand how others feel and in fact feel the same emotions, it would be very difficult if not impossible to respond to others with hostility or cruelty. You would also live by the Golden Rule and be as kind to yourself as you are to others. But you would not live in poverty or sacrifice yourself as some envision. This future would be abundance for all and poverty for none.  If you think about it, there are enough resources in this world for all if they were shared equitably.  No, I’m not talking about socialism or communism or any other “ism.”  I’ve read many learned scholars writing about the problems created by hoarding and the expenses caused by competition.  Just think about the vast amounts of world riches and resources which are wasted in the continual warfare mankind has engaged in for centuries now.  With our creative resources focused upon meeting the needs of all rather than on fights and wars and bureaucracies, our great minds would create a new reality of freedom and happiness for all.  By now you’re thinking how silly I am to think that we could eradicate war and save the many billions and billions of dollars and lives wasted in warfare. But realize that we’re talking about understanding the needs of others, that we are all one human race with the same needs and feelings, and we would be unable to injure or kill others. We’d understand the oneness of all life; that we are all in this reality together. We’d feel kindhearted and merciful to others, understanding that our former opponents have the same thoughts and feelings as we do, the same mothers and fathers and children, and we’d be incapable of pulling the trigger against them.  Yes, humans will always feel anger including anger toward others, but empathy toward others would enable us to dissipate anger without needing to hurt anyone and certainly not destroy other life. They would feel the same way toward us.  No one is a saint, and I certainly am not.  I find myself wanting to grumble, for example at insurance companies which regularly make errors in paying for mental health services for my clients. I can stop myself by realizing that the person on the phone is another human being like I am and certainly did not plot to withhold funds for services rendered.


True empathy would, in my opinion, also involve understanding and responding positively and proactively to the needs of the rest of the earth including the animal and plant kingdoms.  We would treat all animals with the same love and consideration as we treat our beloved cats and dogs. Why should we force chickens, for example, to live in inches of space stacked in rows so that excrement from other chickens falls upon them? If you’ve ever eaten eggs from home-grown chickens, you’d see the difference in the taste and quality of the eggs produced by well

cared for flocks.  Of course we would continue to use animals and plants for nutrition following natural rules, and we’d be grateful when they share with us.  We could go back to the nutritious plants and crops grown in the past when excessive profits were not the primary motivation for agriculture.  If you doubt this, read about what happened to the wheat which used to sustain us and now makes us fat and unhealthy. Think about the difference between tomatoes grown for taste and nutrition versus the cardboard tasting varieties found lately in grocery stores.


But what about natural resources? Isn’t there a finite amount of drinkable water?  Presently, perhaps, but equal sharing would certainly help in the short run. In the longer-term, resources now wasted in competition would be invested in developing desalination methods to convert the vast amounts of ocean water into clean water for all. But what about oil and gas for energy and the new kid on the block, fracking which injects harmful chemicals into the ground and disturbs the earth?  You may not have heard of “free” or “new” energy experiments which have been censored and withheld from us due to the enormous profits generated by the current energy environment. For further information about this issue, check out  and


You might object that I’m just being utopian and that competition is actually good for mankind. If that is your thesis, read “No Contest: The Case Against Competition,” Alfie Kohn, Houghton Mifflin, 1992, a well researched study which shows that competition destroys both self-esteem and relationships when each person is pitted against everyone else.  When people work together, pooled brainpower will definitely improve the final product. Think about this. Why are sporting events, the prime example of competition, described with warlike terminology as battles and why do they regularly erupt in hostility? Instead, we could all rejoice at the beauty and vigor of our athletes, each doing their best, without trampling on each other. Darwin’s work is often cited as proof for the value of competition, but in his last book he actually cited cooperation as the prime mover in the evolution of mankind.


This isn’t all a pipe dream. YOU can change YOU! This new world can be built one person at a time.


When you look at a thesaurus for the word compassion, you’ll find a lot of wonderful words including altruism, generosity, goodness, charity, kindheartedness, assistance, fairness, mercy, soft heartedness, understanding, encouragement, support, comfort, and benevolence.  Antonyms include the opposite kind of words such as cruelty, hatred, meanness, mercilessness, tyranny, greediness, animosity, and difference, malevolence, selfishness, unkindness and antagonism. With these words, I rest my case!