In recent times I have been struck by the widespread use of the term ‘compassion’. It is being colonized by many groups, organisations and discourses – sometimes with rather opposing purposes. Widely used by the supporters of palliative care, it has also been adopted by those that promote assisted dying. It is found in the mission statements of businesses of various kinds, as well schools and colleges. The photograph here shows how it has been adopted by one agency in New York.
Conscious of the growing interest in compassion relating to end of life issues, our team on the Wellcome Trust funded project Global Interventions at the End of Life has been teasing out some of the underlying assumptions about compassion and how it relates to various disciplines and perspectives. The result of these endeavours has just been published in a paper written by Shahaduz Zaman, Alexander Whitelaw, Naomi Richards, Hamiton Inbadas, and myself. It is called A moment for compassion – emerging rhetorics in end of life care, and it is available on open access in the Journal of Medical Humanities.