The Acts of Compassion

Prepare and submit a paper on the acts of compassion and the motives behind them in on compassion, an by barbara lazear ascher. Ascher provides the reader with evidence to show that the acts that are attributed to sympathy are not always the result of pure sympathy but can arise out of other factors. As is seen in the first instance, a mother with her baby in an Aprica stroller at a signal light is trapped in front of a homeless mad man. The man has his gaze fixed on the baby as the woman is waiting for the signal to change.Noticing the man watching the child closely, the lady quickly takes a dollar and gives that to the homeless man. Through this example, Ascher has the intention to show that the activities which are often attributed to kindness do not always stem from pity, but many other factors and emotions play a role. In the case of this lady, Ascher expects the reader to guess what all emotions might have made the lady take such a hasty decision regarding the man who is homeless.It is possible to argue that the lady helped the man because of kindness but the way she behaved proves that the main reasons for the activity could be the threat his presence posed. The author writes that “the mother grows impatient and pushes the stroller before her,” clearly showing that the woman was frustrated by the situation she was in. Therefore, it is only rational for the reader to claim that the lady was feeling uncomfortable in the situation, and the primary reason that made the woman feel uncomfortable was the threat posed by the homeless man to her baby through his continued stare. Thus, one reaches the realization that there are more possible reasons for people to engage in acts of empathy.The acts of compassion and the motives behind them in On Compassion, an essay by Barbara Lazear Ascher, are further explained with the help of another example. In this second example, the owner of a small French cafe at Ninety-First Street has an unwelcome visitor at her cafe. An old man enters the shop unexpectedly, and the man has a clearly unpleasant appearance. According to Ascher, the man “wears a stained blanket” with “the scent of stale cigarette and urine”.The owner of the cafe decides to dispose of the old man as quickly as possible as if she wants to get rid of him at the earliest. The author questions as to what makes the woman take such a hasty decision to help that man. In other words, the author intends to show that even in this case, the act of sympathy arises not exactly from kindness, but for some other motives like a threat.An analysis of both examples proves that there is an element of fear in both. In the first, the lady fears danger for her baby and wants to keep the homeless man away, while in the second, the owner of the shop quickly disposes of the old man because she fears that his presence will make his customers dissatisfied. Thus, Ascher makes it clear to the reader that the acts of kindness are not always the result of kindness, but are the result of many other reasons. For example, in the provided examples, two factors contributed to the act of kindness: first, both the persons seem unwilling to see the unpleasant things and want to keep them away, and second, both face a threat from the presence of these examples of adversity.

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