I don’t believe in God or Heaven, but if I did, I would believe that Heaven must be empty. Courage, honesty, humility—these are all great virtues, but the greatest of all is compassion. If you don’t feel the suffering of others as you would your own, you have no compass; if you don’t look at a starving child and feel their hunger, or at someone being beaten down and feel the blows land on you, then your courage is merely strength, your honesty all too easily hurtful, and your humility without purpose.

I don’t think anyone who is truly compassionate would ever leave someone in pain behind. If they reached the gates they would say, “I can’t, not yet,” and then turn around and come back, because they would understand that none of us can go until all of us can go.