“Where is your compassion?” A phrase uttered by those people taking stances of incredulity whereby they feign shock over another person’s ability to either be insensitive or unflinching in the perceptions of the world over their own perception of an event. They are immediately listed by any one of the common descriptors and placed into an ideological prison set to explain issues of nuance and complexity with one word monikers or one line backhanded labels. At any rate, our need to take anything and everything we see, and categorize it expresses the need to keep things simple. This need for simplicity is thwarted when we begin to utilize hypocrisy, standards with shades of gray and justifying measure, and when we simply don’t want to spend the time to find out the truth behind such perceptions. This is further exacerbated, but not always knowingly, by the general public, when they are knowingly deceived by media outlets and/or manipulated by the very sources they depend upon to give them factual evidence. I will always stand by a desire to have only the facts relayed to me, and allow me to form an opinion devoid of political and social influences. At the end of the day though, our culture’s need to define and redefine what is believed to be compassionate without an objective base to compare it with will remain a constant problem. Just like an inability for compatible moralities, so are expectations of compassion.
When we think of compassion, I’m sure we have a roughhewn image of kindness, this is to say, an act of kindness for someone in need of our charitable behaviors. However, since our lives aren’t written for us to examine and prepare for, we’re left at a loss to determine how much or when our charity/compassion is to be used. Our “free-will” allows us to go as far or as little as we desire, with a hopeful expectation (linear in its thought progression) which inadvertently says, the more charitable we are with people the more we can expect in return. This is to say, the better we’ll feel, or the more magnanimous our efforts are the more people might see the “good-works” we’ve done. I would say, if this is any person’s goal, they are somewhat off course. Though to say they’ve done good works at all, means someone who benefitted from their kindness is better off from this expression of love, although be it a misguided love. In some instances, I see a compassion shown by one person to another, becomes an act of self-love due to an expectation of reciprocal love in action. This is to say, and expectation of benefit by first giving as a form of manipulation. All I’m saying is, person “A” gives to person “B” in the hopes person “B” will reciprocate by giving back or telling everyone about the generosity of person “A”. The ego is fed by a reverse stream of adulation performed by the original intended target. Compassion then becomes more of a photo op than an act of charity. With this exposure, a game of sorts is created, the game where parties are more concerned about the actions expressed as meeting a minimum set of arbitrary requirements, set forth by culture, and subsequently moved when the culture has found little response in the manipulated response.
Here is what I mean, when something bad happens, people will usually extend a message of “thoughts and prayers” this message is used to convey a simple compassion and let the person receiving the message a sense of community. In return, society has deemed the appropriate response to such an expression would be something similar to “thank you” or “I appreciate your words”. A compassion was shown, regardless of size, and the acceptance of the intended target has lovingly reciprocated. However, just recently, we’ve seen ire being cast upon those who offer “thoughts and prayers”, not because they’ve done anything wrong per se, but because those who would find fault in the subjective world of compassion, see the perceived diminutive response as more an admonition of bad events rather than the simple words of compassion they were meant to be. This is to say, the line of acceptance has moved once again, and people who are on the wrong side of the “correct” perception risk public ridicule and varying levels of ostracism. This is of course until the offending party, remember the person attempting to show compassion, apologizes for their breech of etiquette and forms in with the rest of the cultural police. How, dumb!
This got me to thinking about how we perceive compassion and how it translates to each and every one of us. All I mean is, to have an understanding of compassion, there really should be a measure of compassion. There really should be an objective standard, with which to measure our actions against and in turn know beyond a doubt we’ve been compassionate to those who are in need of compassion. Ok, so in laymen’s terms what is this? All I’m trying to say is, when we perform compassionate acts, there should be an allowable stopping point to conclude this act, but at the same time, there should be an objective reaction which agrees upon the conclusion of compassionate acts. A good analogy would be, a person of wealth and means takes it upon themselves to feed a family starving. The family agrees they need food to live and gladly accept the food of charity, but also expect the brief respite from their situation to be concluded at the end of the meal. For them to have an expectation more should be given is a subjective expectation of want over need. They want something and because the person can theoretically provide this want, the compassion which was originally showed has now become obligation by only one side of the compassion equation.
Often times, I’ve seen people who do not wish to be involved, for whatever reason they may have, with the parties they wish to show compassion, but because they don’t act with the perfunctory social norms of society, their compassionate act is treated with vitriol and pushed into the realm of defunct ideologies. This isn’t to say, they could have acted better or with more tenderness in their pursuit of compassion, but within the actions of their efforts they are without a doubt, not wrong. As this is the case, those who seek a punitive action against perceived adversaries of compassion find themselves at odds with segments of the “new culture”. It then becomes, by popular acceptance, a crime of sorts to push away from public opinion. However, like any drug and the potential for addiction, those forces set to rewrite the objective standards of compassion seek all avenues of power to attain in order to make all aspects of culture fall in line with their perceptions. We see people who have religious beliefs being forced to go against their wills, as a matter of course, regardless of the degradation it focuses on their lives and the lives of their families. We see entire organizations, focused on the compassion of others, being told, because of perceived outdated beliefs, they no longer are considered compassionate, but instead they are outdated and evil to their core. The Catholic Church is a prime example, a religion of over 1.2 billion Catholics is routinely told, regardless of the literature and words spoken daily, they are bigots and enemies of goodness, at least by popular media and media driven sources. Events in the Church, which are deplorable and an affront to anyone who claims to be Christian and good, are exacerbated to an epidemic level challenging the very motives of compassion and good the Church is built upon. However, just like anything with a subjective goal in mind, there is always something behind the curtain, and an argument of compassion is no less important to the debate over abortion.
Abortion, a hot button topic in the world today, and especially a hot topic when the law and its continuation may be subject to change or at least be hotly contested is on the forefront of the minds of many people. Just so we’re clear, abortion is wrong, and taking the life of anything is wrong, especially the life of an individual who cannot defend or answer for themselves. If we want to talk about choice, where is the choice, the child in the womb, has and why aren’t they allowed to exercise it? Some would say, giving the woman a choice to decide if she wants to keep the baby or not is compassion. Though, I would say this isn’t even in the same world as compassion, in truth, a woman who exercises an option to end life acts more like a dictator purging what they don’t want rather than showing compassion to all.
The Christian Church is very specific about the life of a child, and in the processes of the compassion to see the beauty of life, choices must be made to keep this very reverence for life understood as an objective truth and not the opinions of those with an agenda. Some, could argue, the Christian’s pursuit is a subjective approach to “their truth” and is no more relevant than those with a pro-choice agenda. In some specific cases, I can find no argument with their point. However, even when we can find those with a subjective agenda, it still doesn’t preclude the understanding of objective truth and life and the need to preserve life at all costs. At its very core, compassion seeks to prolong what is good, by shielding those who are beset by what is evil/bad.
I would even go so far as to say, when we can accept the objective moral truth finding compassion is relatively easy and to put into practice is a matter of time and acceptance. When we find subjectivity in our compassion, we find issue in circumstance and derision in anything which doesn’t meet our specific standards of compassion. If it isn’t what we’d do, or feel, then it is probably safe to assume the person intending compassion is wrong, and since there isn’t anyone around to punish them for their oversight, we must do so, so we can teach them where they are wrong. Seems to be the standard action for anyone who doesn’t meet a set of standards. Standards, which are neither written down, and can only be repeated, until they are no longer popular.
The act of compassion, isn’t just about hugs and kisses, although, those are good to have in certain disagreeable times, especially those instances of loss. However, compassion should be, one’s desire to understand and proffer a solution meant to alleviate circumstances which might be necessary to help another person or persons. Currently within many governments, we are inundated with social programs focused on the help of the society at large. For instance, welfare programs intended to subsidize those who need financial or food needs, with a general belief the help will provide circumstances whereby the individual(s) will be capable of sourcing food and shelter on their own at some point. At least, this was the original intended purpose, however this has changed over the years, and there appears to be more and more folks finding loopholes and system crutches to allow advantageous circumstances perpetuating and existence on the forced compassion of the people around them. This isn’t to say all the programs are necessarily bad, but they should never be considered entitlements of life. However, culturally they have been accepted as a cultural need, and anyone who disagrees with this perceived need, now becomes the cultural equivalent to a racist, bigoted, uncompassionate pariah. So, now we reach the value of the question, “Where is your compassion?” To which I would answer, “My compassion has always been here”, for me to continue giving sums of money unrequited, is nothing less than an inability to be compassionate and an ability to feel bad. That’s right, seeing poverty and the conditions it creates should make us feel bad, but giving our time and money to an entity which has been shown, by its agents, to be woefully corrupt and inadequate, is an indicator of our misaligned need for compassion.
Compassion simply comes in the word, “no” more often than the word “yes”. I love my kids, and yet I find I tell them “no” so often, they assume this will be my answer anytime they ask for something. I know there might be some out there, already forming an opinion of me, but keep reading, and hopefully you will recognize the compassion in my “no” to them. A child is a needy set of circumstances, which culminates into a beautiful gift from God. This is to say, their innocence and their goodness is one of the closest gifts of the ethereal we can touch and experience. However, kids are also entitled and believe they should get what they ask for, sound similar to some adults you might know? By giving them what they ask for, whenever they ask for it, I am showing no compassion, but instead I’m complicit in the degeneration of their development. A functioning adult is one which can accept circumstances and yet still rise above to achieve their goals. An adult’s ability to rise above their circumstances isn’t a matter of talent, but something which must be taught and learned over many frustrating years of development. Likewise, this is a matter for the parents as well, I personally don’t enjoy causing consternation for my family. I don’t find enjoyment in seeing the letdown on their faces as I inform them, they will not be going to the party because they are in trouble for failing to do their chores. So, you’ve guessed it, I’m a mean dad, because I care enough to tell them “no”, so one day when they are much older, they will have an objective standard to base decisions on. They will be able to accept the fact, they won’t receive everything they want, but this won’t make them unhappy, but instead it will give them perspective to understand needs and wants.
Sometimes, being perceived as wrong, because we don’t follow the pack in their subjective standards of compassion, is right where we need to be. This can be considered tough love, old school rules, or common sense, and whatever we choose to call it, we can be certain of a few things. The first certainty is our comprehension of what we call compassion, find an objective source (The Bible and Teachings of the Church) and stick with them. The second, compassion isn’t a feeling, but instead a moral choice to acknowledge right from wrong, and then show charity for our fellow man with no hope of reciprocal effort. The third, no matter what another person says about the compassion we show, if we can find where our actions are objective (through self-reflection) then we can argue our point, and contrary to popular belief now; arguments are very much needed, they are the only preventative measure to all out chaos. An argument is the only way to create a compassion through discourse. Our compassion is our own, and although we feel the need to explain it from time-to-time, this is the effect of a hypersensitive culture, which needs our argument and your silent stance on your efforts to find compassion in those who are God’s creations. May God bless you, and your family!
God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!