As I was out running today, I got thinking about the topic of compassion, and subsequently: idiot compassion. It’s always been a topic that I have found to be intellectually invigorating.
A question popped into my head in relation to compassion.
I wondered if causing someone pain, assuming it was in their best interest, was compassionate.
Take for example, a person whom was having a schizophrenic episode and was repeatedly attacking theirself. Wouldn’t it be compassionate to restrain them, to prevent further harm being done?
Or would it be considered harmful, because you are using force and potentially violence on someone who has not caused you harm?
The definition of compassion is:
sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
I think this is a topic which requires a great deal of mental clarity, and even empathy.
In one instance, you are using aggression. In another, you are helping the person in the long-term.
This type of “conflict”, would be in the best interest of the schizophrenic in the long term. So are we justified in making harm be done in the short term, to get that long term benefit?
I would say: Yes, absolutely.
“Compassion”, in itself is nothing more than a description. It means that your sympathetic concern instigates your actions.
In the case of the schizophrenic, you would restrain him or her on the basis of concern for them, or others’ safety. In short, your compassionate concern overrides your anti-aggression principle to ensure that the person is safe.
Throughout modern usage, it seems that “compassion” has taken a different meaning. Which the Buddhists have labelled: idiot compassion.
What I mean by “compassion” taking another meaning is this:
Compassion has morphed into a virtue that means that one is only concerned with being “morally right” in their own version of morality. It has no basis in actual concern for the subjects long-term well-being.
It seems to have changed to become a catch-phrase for people to declare they are morally superior, because they care more about these people, even while not showing any type of beneficial action on their behalf.
The modern-day virtue signaler may say that conflict should be avoided at all costs. To ensure that no harm is ever done in any way, shape, or form.
But are we using compassion correctly?
Or are we just delaying conflict and calling it compassion?
That would definitely be considered anti-courageous. And I would argue that it is also anti-compassionate. Because you are avoiding conflict based on your own beliefs, instead of that feeling of empathy toward others.
It turns into being compassionate for the simple sake of being self-idolized. Which is selfish, and does not quite fit the description of “feeling empathy for the suffering of others”.
Political Ties to Idiot Compassion
Naturally, I couldn’t help seeing this topic in a political light.
Those who are called “bleeding-heart liberals” tend to be considered compassionate. They care for the environment, for the poor, for the disadvantaged, and so on.
But I have to wonder: is this actually based on the virtue of compassion? Do they actually feel this sympathy for the sufferings of others? Or is it merely a self-idolizing moral code?
From a geo-political standpoint, I’m not quite sure.
Typically the stance of the bleeding-hearts is against killing (unless it’s abortion, then it doesn’t count). As we have seen, they tend to be against war and conflict, even in relation to terrorism.
Groups like Al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State, should be dealt with by means other than violence.
One could construe this as compassionate.
Simply look at it through the eyes of a bleeding-heart. The people that align with these terrorist groups are disadvantaged, and grew up with resentment toward foreign involvement.
Bleeding hearts seek to be empathetic toward this plight, and do not want to cause violence on what they perceive as someone that is suffering.
However, I’m not sold about this viewpoint or its relation to compassion.
One that would be truly compassionate, should be so toward all those deemed suffering.
Would the innocent Christians being slaughtered by these terrorist groups not be considered suffering?
As I said above: it’s delaying conflict, and calling it compassion.
Even by giving innumerable amounts of aid to these Christian groups, they still will be under constant threat of terrorism by Islam.
The only way to show compassion to the actual victims (the innocent – non-aggressive Christians), is to aid them in their fight. To stop the killings through compassionate and justifiable force.
We can’t have two sides of the same coin.
Just as we couldn’t help the schizophrenic and not instigate violence; we also cannot help the Christians without instigating violence.
This is why I believe that there has been a steady rise of “idiot compassion” in the West.
To be compassionate, you have to have an un-ending drive toward sympathy for those suffering.
It means you have to sometimes be extremely courageous and make difficulty decisions.
And it means that you have to have a strong moral conviction to end that suffering.
We can’t have it both ways. We can’t claim to be compassionate while simultaneously giving a pass to those who make others suffer.
One should never want to do harm, but one should be able too if it will end the needless suffering.
Otherwise, it’s idiot compassion – and nothing else.
And idiot compassion lacks courage, because it assumes that “being nice” and “being friendly” is the highest qualities we should adhere too.
When in reality, we should adhere to being active and courageous in the face of suffering: so that it may cease.