The Fall and Rise of Compassion

The word ‘Compassion’.  Is it a new word for you?  Have you always used it?  Are you using it more now?

If you Google the word definition, this graph showing how often it was used in the written form pops up.  I am intrigued by this graph.  Click on the picture to get a more detailed version.

It bottoms out in 1942.

compassion graph 2

If you look at the word ‘happy’ you get a similar shape, but it bottomed out in 1981.

happy 2

Is there something going on, a bigger picture?  I am interested that the graph for ‘compassion’ steadily declines all through the 19thC, the age of the Industrial Revolution.  It declines steadily until 1915 and then levels off and slowly increases until 1929 when the drops resumes.  It only begins to climb again in 1943.

How might this be a reflection of the mindset of the English-speaking world?  It is now steadily increasing and usage is back up to a similar level to 1869.  The data is dependent upon which books have been scanned in to be analysed so it may be simply a result of which books have been scanned in.

If there is a genuine pattern here,it may be simply that we were using other words in the meantime for the same concept.  Or are we as a society becoming more compassionate?

Or are we simply becoming more aware of the NEED for compassion?


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