By Charles H. Elliott, Laura L. Smith, W. Doyle Gentry

Compassion is the opposite of anger and violence. All world religions, regardless of their differences, have one thing in common — they teach and preach compassion. When the Bible talks about doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, it’s not talking about anger and violence — it’s talking about love of your fellow man and woman (or, for that matter, your cat!).

The table highlights some differences between two opposing ways of treating other human beings: compassion and revenge.

Revenge versus Compassion
Revenge Compassion
Is born out of anger or hatred Is born out of love
Has the goal of hurting someone Has the goal of helping another person
Heightens conflict Eases conflict
Is judgmental Is nonjudgmental
Says, “They’re wrong” Says, “They need help”
Says, “I’m against them” Says, “I’m for them”
Is destructive Is constructive
Plots to punish someone Releases the desire to punish someone

Make a pact with yourself not to let a day go by without finding some way in which you can show compassion to your fellow humans. You might be surprised at how small acts of compassion — a kind word at exactly the right time — can salvage someone’s day.

Professor Shelly Taylor at UCLA sees such acts as examples of what she calls “tending and befriending,” a form of positive psychology, that allows everyone to better survive hard times. (Interestingly, this trait is much more common in women than it is in men. Maybe this is why women live much longer?)