“Compassion constitutes a radical form of criticism,” says Walter Brueggeman in The Prophetic Imagination. Compassion says that I feel what you feel, I experience the human frailty that you experience.
The powers-that-be cannot allow themselves to feel or experience what other people feel. To do so means they have to give up some of their power. They have to acknowledge that the decisions they enact cause harm to other segments of the population. When they do not allow themselves to feel compassion, they do not have to feel the fear of not having enough food to feed their children. They do not have to feel bone tired after working 40-60 hours a week and still not have adequate resources to meet the needs of themselves and their families. Without compassion, they do not have to know the desperation of a wife who must watch her husband struggle for breath because they cannot afford the health care he needs. Without compassion, those who make the laws and regulations do not know the dangers of living in substandard housing in substandard neighborhoods. Compassion is too costly to the innermost being of people with power. Compassion breaks through the numbness of self-absorption and caring for only me and mine. Compassion is subversive activity.