Compassion is the inner barrier to the inhumane. In Liverpool, two eleven-year-old boys abducted a two-year-old and murder him. This crime could have been avoided if passers-by who heard the child scream had intervened. Arno Gruen asserts that these passers-by placed themselves on the side of the killers by their failure to act. His diagnosis: our feeling of compassion is seriously lacking. And the consequences are disastrous, not only for the individual but for society as a whole. As long as pain and grief are considered signs of weakness, our humaneness is impoverished, damaged and incomplete. This makes us susceptible to a false identification with power, a surrender to systems of power that do not always act in accordance with the welfare of mankind.
Arno Gruen, the psychotherapist, focuses on our capacity of being human. "The question of human compassion is the question of man's capacity for humaneness and ultimately of his identity." In his astute analyses he shows that human dignity means not to exclude empathy but to place it at the core of self-development.