Her skin was dryer than usual. Her eyes had deeper bags than a student in her twenties should have. Her hair was pulled back severely in a way that demanded the least possible care. And she was speaking at a rapid rate about how she needed to take eighteen credits—six courses—to fulfill her plan to complete a double major in chemistry and French. This was supposed to be an advising session to help a second-year student choose her major and courses for the next semester. Instead, it became something more urgent.
When I talk to my students about living for compassion, they tend to be quite interested. But few of them have ever contemplated this sort of life before. Like the life of courage and the life of thought, the life of compassion seems to be receding in our culture. People don’t talk much about ideals any more. We don’t usually offer them as viable options to the young.