Filipe, why throw out “compassion” because of its Christian roots? That’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater. That doesn’t make sense especially if you want to help others. Don’t worry, being compassionate doesn’t make one a Christian. The point is to level the playing field.
Empathy, compassion. Po-tay-to, po-tah-toe. The whole point of all of this discussion is not to parse meanings that are hair’s width in difference. Parsing words is good if it leads to better understanding and positive action, but the end game for me is to get people to recognize the humanity in one another and be moved to act positively on someone’s behalf. Navel gazing doesn’t get anything done.
I understand your points, but ultimately I’m looking at the bigger picture.
Compassion is simply concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. It’s original meaning is from Middle English; via Old French from ecclesiastical Latin, from compati ‘suffer with.’ There nothing inherently condescending about compassion. I have to disagree with you on “… not being able to feel what they feel, thus being a bit condescending and not allowing human interaction and sharing of different experiences.” To be with (and I mean actively involved physically or emotionally with someone while they are suffering is one of the greatest forms of human interaction. Motivations and how people deal with one another can move any interaction out of the realm of compassion or empathy into the realm of patronization.
As for white Americans’ ability to avoid discussing race? It’s easier than you think. If one doesn’t want to talk about horse racing, one simply doesn’t talk about horse racing; even at a horse racing track. One’s inability or reticence to talk about a subject doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, it only says the person chooses not to talk about what staring them in the face.
The same applies to white Americans who don’t talk about race. If they don’t want to talk about it, they simply don’t talk about it. They can also choose to live in a cloistered world of denial of or ignore the reality that people of color exist. So that statement really is true. They don’t have to talk about it. The idea of discrimination in and of itself means that someone is opting to not only recognize a difference, but to withhold that which would be freely given were it not for said trait.