Compassion in adversity

Image attribution : Oniicha CC-BY via Creative Commons


“In prosperity, our friends know us; in adversity, we know our friends.” John Churton Collins

English literary critic John Churton Collins’ observation of friendship was a tacit, but spot-on observation of human behavior in the
midst of adversity.

For various reasons, human nature leads people to avoid those in need. In the midst of trying times, it is easy to spot friends, for they are the ones who are still present. Their heartfelt words and deeds see us through these times. Adversity is a test of friendship and compassion. These are times when a show of kindness makes a world of difference.

The recent passing of Singapore’s most outstanding Prime Minister and founding father, Lee Kwan Yew, was such a test. As Singaporeans stood in a long queue to pay their last respects to him at the nation’s Parliament House, they found out who their friends are. They emerged in the forms of businesses who distributed drinks to them as they stood in the sweltering, humid heat. They showed themselves in the form of Singaporeans who distributed umbrellas to others who were sweating buckets while waiting.

Compassion is around us. In the worst of times, we can show it ourselves, to ourselves and to others.

In adverse situations, the best show of compassion to others is a respect for boundaries. Tactful, thoughtful, empathetic words mean the most. A friend wants your compassion, not in the form of sweet words, but in the form of your sincerity and presence.

In tense times, we should also show compassion to ourselves.

When we meet toughness, we counter it with self-compassion. These are times to appreciate who we are and to speak to ourselves with kindness. We should see these times as opportunities, accepting responsibility for what we can do to make our situations better.

In adversity, compassion is the best form of friendship, all around.

Image attribution : Oniicha CC-BY via Creative Commons


Share with your friends
To report this post you need to login first.


  1. Laura
  2. coolchillmom
  3. Elizabeth O.
  4. Italia Caruso

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *