What do we mean by compassion? The word itself is one among many used to describe the profundity of human connection; but it's the only one, I'd submit, which implies kindness without conditions. Empathy, for example, refers to our ability to feel and perceive from another's viewpoint. . . . Sympathy is famously tenderhearted, but can also remain at arm's-length. . . . Even when it comes to altruism, the noblest self-sacrifice can be merely parochial, reserved for one's family or the insiders of one's religion or nation, too often at outsiders' expense.

Marc Ian Barasch, Field Notes on the Compassionate Life