The Problem of Pity by Joshua Hren

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The Problem of Pity

Misguided Mercy & Dante's Infernal Purgation
by Joshua Hren

I, one man alone,
Prepared myself to face the double war
Of the journey and the pity.
—Dante, Inferno, Canto II

It is a pity that compassion has conquered our public conversations, our churches, and our hearts. (In this paper, I will at times use the words "compassion," "pity," and "mercy" as synonyms, even as I make necessary distinctions along the way.) Occasions for pity proliferate to the point that many of us experienc . . .