Compassion has a problem. According to journalist Krista Tippett, the idea's meaning has been, "Hollowed out in our culture ... it's seen as a squishy kumbayah thing, or it's seen as potentially depressing." She continues:
When it enters the news, compassion too often comes in the form of feel good feature pieces or sidebars about heroic people you could never be like or examples of self sacrifice that would seem to be too good to be true most of the time, our cultural imagination about compassion has been deadened by idealistic images.
Tippett, an author and journalist, is the host of the nationally syndicated radio show, "Being" (formerly called "Speaking of Faith"). She spoke at a special TED Prize event at the United Nations in celebration of Karen Armstrong's Charter for Compassion.
Tippett used her talk to detail several stories of individuals who have lived in a way that represents a deeper meaning of compassion and to suggest her own idea for a more substantive and attainable definition of the concept.
I want to propose a final definition of compassion ... for us to call compassion a spiritual technology. Now, our traditions contain vast wisdom about this and we need them to mine it for us now. But compassion is also equally at home in the secular as well as the religious ... the future of humanity needs this technology as much as it needed all the others that have now connected us.