In Buddhism, there is a goddess of compassion named Quan Yin. Quan means to perceive and yin means sound. Quan yin is said to perceive the cries of the suffering in the world. But this goddess does not only hear everything, she is also depicted with 10,000 arms. In each hand is a tool for liberation.
Quan Yin is a bodhisattva or an enlightened being, and even though we are not enlightened yet, that same compassion resides within each and every one of us. We have the faculties to perceive the suffering of others, and more than that, we have the tools necessary to alleviate this suffering. It may seem as though we do not have the 10,000 hands to do it, but we have two. There is something each and every one of us is good at, or has the resources to do, or has the skill to implement, etc.
Compassion, as symbolized by Quan Yin, is not merely to empathize but also to be driven to act based on this empathy. And it means that we have to have a strong back and soft front to thread this path of compassion. We must have the strength to uphold ourselves, and an openness to receive undefeated the world as it is. Not being enlightened is not an excuse to shut off from compassion. In Jivamukti yoga, we say that it is through compassion that we find enlightenment. In practical terms, it means we allow ourselves to feel the suffering of others in our heart, and we do something about it.