But passive compassion alone is not enough to achieve victory in the struggle against inhumanity. A Buddhist
story that illustrates the inadequacy of the mere feeling of compassion tells of a mother with paralyzed arms who helplessly watched her child being swept away along a fast-flowing river. Those who are compassionate but who do not possess the wisdom to find the means of relieving the sufferings of their fellow human beings are compared to that mother. Meaningful compassion has to be active; it must seek the means to bring comfort to those who are in need of succour. Wisdom is necessary to enable us to discover those means.
Often lack of wisdom can result in deeds lacking compassion. The philosopher Karl Popper was asked in an interview if he believed in evil. "No," he answered, "but I believe in stupidity." His reply struck me as remarkably Buddhist: often in Buddhist teachings, the wise are associated with righteousness and the foolish or ignorant with evil-doing. "As sweet as honey is an evil deed, so thinks the fool..." Lack of wisdom blinds men to attitudes and actions that deny the basic humanity that should unite all peoples, regardless of race, language, creed or class. Once set on a course which emphasizes differences and exacerbates conflict, there is little room left for compassion. Wisdom can thus be seen as important not just for making compassion effective, but for generating compassion itself.
However, we should not consider wisdom therefore superior to compassion. If compassion without wisdom can be illustrated by the story of the paralyzed mother, wisdom without compassion can be illustrated by a boatman who sits in his craft and eyes the hapless infant sweeping past on the current without making any effort to save it. Wisdom too can be as ineffective as passive compassion if there is no urge to use it to help others
Source: Bodhicitta - http://www.humanity.org/journal/published/index.php?page=premier-6
Contributed by: Ryan