paxamo wrote: I want to help people in this world, and protect our environment, and alleviate civil rights, with compassion and love ...
This is a worthy aspiration.
From a Buddhist perspective, it is important to be clear about what compassion is. The Buddha described four "Divine Abidings":
1. Metta (Loving-kindness)
2. Karuna (Compassion)
3. Mudita (Joy with others)
4. Upekkha (Equanimity)
It is helpful to understand what they are, and what they are not. There are some details in the following links, but the key point is that they are easily confused with their "near enemies", states that are somewhat similar, but not the real thing. Perhaps most obviously, Equanimity is not
indifference. http://www.brahmaviharas.org/article-Th ... iharas.htm
Pity is the near enemy to compassion for it has a hidden quality of aversion. The delusion of pity comes, in part, from the belief that if we hold ourselves as separate that we are protecting ourselves in some way. Karuna dissolves the boundaries divide our hearts in two. With growing compassion we are less apt to look away - to withdraw our attention - to abandon or be abandoned.
Compassion is a state that is very often misunderstood. There is nothing mawkish or sentimental about true compassion. It is the earnest wish that all beings be freed from their suffering. It can be thought of as an active love, whereas loving-kindness is a passive form. If it is tinged by sadness or pity then it isn't pure. The near enemy is grief and the far enemy is cruelty, or the wish to inflict harm.
See also: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el006.html