Monday, August 8, 2005

Of Compassion

Compassion seems to be an emotion that's not being extended very frequently these days. Not only is it not being shown to our fellower travelers, but it seems that a lot of people don't even comprehend what compassion is. They hand it out like a party favor to those "special" people who were proffered an invitation to a gala event.

As I've discussed in this space before, one of my favorite conservative blogs is Where's Your Brain? It's NOT one of my favorites because I agree with the blog's author -- quite the opposite! I like it because it provides a keyhole into the mind of a rather uncompassionate person.

Of course, she thinks of herself as being very compassionate with one caveat: "I'm very compassionate - to those that deserve compassion. " She, like so many others, judges a person first and THEN decides if they meet her very subjective criteria enough to have a little sympathy thrown their way.

If we take a look at some of the great humanitarians of human history (Lao Tzu, Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, etc.), we find that this methodology would seem foreign to each of them. Compassion is NOT something to be rolled out ONLY for those who think or look like you do, but to anyone and everyone alike.

While hanging on the cross, Jesus showed compassion by praying for his executioners. Gandhi and King urged their followers to show compassion for their tormentors. Day and Mother Teresa traveled to be with the sick and dying on all sides of the line. And Lao Tzu wrote about such things as mercy toward your opponents.

If you only extend compassion to those who are deserving in your eyes, you are no better than your worst enemy.

And a compartmentalized compassion is really not compassion at all; it's more akin to narcissistic self-righteousness!



    What if we were to scrap the Pledge of Allegiance from our educational system and replace it with the Golden Rule?

    Nearly every religion in the world has some version of that idea, and wouldn't it be wonderful if people were made aware of it every day?

    Besides reciting those few words, or perhaps rewording it in more easily understood language, there could be a discussion about how it applies to daily life. Bullies, playground disagreements,stealing, etc. much like show and tell time. If done on a daily basis like the pledge, it would become ingrained in the psyche. I think many people are not taught about compassion, but the kids get their daily dose of jingoism.

    Additionally, I think every grade of school should teach an age appropriate course in understanding and handling money. This could also become ingrained in the psyche. The net result of these efforts could conceivably reduce crime and poverty, as well as create a nicer kind of person.

    Not a bad result to aim for with little cost to the taxpayer.

  2. Dino,
    Both of your suggestions are brilliant! You are indeed a sage!!


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