I had always thought I could never be a great doctor because I felt too emotionally bound to my patients. It was impossible for me to hold back tears when feeling that gut wrenching empathy for families mourning the passing of their loved ones. Because it always seemed as if I were the only resident moved by these scenes, I reasoned that this was an unprofessional impulse.
I don't think anyone seriously denies that welfare reform of some sort is necessary, whether to reduce waste and fraud, to re-establish proper incentive for the unemployed to look for work, or to help restore order to public finances. Around these basic points there's consensus. The question is, however, reforms at what cost, and to whom?
Empathy can be expressed on a spectrum, and how a child responds to a given situation may depend on a range of different complex psychological and child development issues. For example a child on the autistic spectrum may not recognise that their online actions or behaviour may come across as inappropriately blunt.
As the Dalai Lama shares his message of dialogue and compassion in the UK in the coming days, we might find ourselves wondering whether a compassionate outlook can really be a driving force in our political, economic and social institutions.