Abstracting Compassion

December 5th, 2010
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Passing a panhandler on the street, I feel a wave of compassion. I want to help them, I tell myself not to, and then walking by I feel guilty. My inner push to help the people around me doesn't understand the logic that leads me to give instead to international development, helping people far away. It doesn't understand that however much I can give, I must allocate it to do the most good. The impulse to help just knows: there's someone in front of me that could use some money, and I have more money than I need. How do I learn how to abstract compassion away from individuals who happen to live near me and towards the people who need help most?

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