Compassion involves personal choice, action

Our society needs to have an honest discussion about compassion. While people may think they know what it means, it is clear there are instances of compassion being misinterpreted, and even twisted to represent something it is not.

Let’s start with the basics. We probably all know someone, or several people, whom we would describe as compassionate. They show kindness, caring and a willingness to help others. Compassionate people give of their time and resources. They give to charity. They volunteer to help people who are ill or animals that have been abandoned, as examples.

A key standard of compassion is that it is an individual action or choice. Compassionate people realize they have the power to help, so they may feel compelled. Or it may be more intellectual. Someone with millions or billions of dollars may be faced with the task of putting the money to use somehow before they die, as many societal benefactors have done. Business titans such as Andrew Carnegie and Bill Gates come to mind.

We believe one misinterpretation when it comes to compassion is that it is selfless. Those who are compassionate do gain from their acts. Through feelings of accomplishment and self-fulfillment. If no good was gained, compassionate people would re-evaluate what they are doing.

The distortion of compassion is, of course, its utilization for political ends, including the attainment of power. Politicians of many stripes, but usually liberal, have weaponized compassion. They use it like religious zealots to tell you what you should be doing, and if you are not doing it, they confiscate your wealth to implement their schemes. They obliterate your choice in the matter. If, for some strange reason, we chose to give them the benefit of the doubt, we would say they are “compassionate” with other people’s money. It is more realistic to say they are tyrants.