Compassion, a Higher Loyalty
Today I talk about compassion, a higher loyalty.
A few days ago, or nights I should say, was the White House correspondent’s dinner. I was dismayed, disappointed, and quite judgmental of the featured comedienne/entertainer. She was vulgar, excessively so. Many of her jokes were not funny in the least (I realize this is a subjective statement). Her supposed joke regarding abortion was particularly disturbing. Perhaps the most appalling was her rough treatment of another woman who was sitting only a few seats away from her.
All of these judgments emanating from within my mind stimulated a variety of emotions. There was anger and frustration. There was horror and there was a desire to strike back. And it was in realizing that desire to strike back that I made a breakthrough. I’ve been asking myself, “how are we ever going to come back together as a people?” It seems that every thought, deed, and action leads to more division. Every time I get into a conversation with a friend or relative or even a minor acquaintance, and the conversation drifts toward anything of a political nature, the conversation may end abruptly. But more concerning to me, is the feeling I get of alienation. And again, my heart aches to know how will we bridge this gap? And Sunday morning the answer came to me.
The answer is for me to love others. It’s that simple. Follow-up actions require more. They require me to consciously bring the image of this woman making jokes at the expense of others, who is laughing off abortion and infidelity as if they’re simply acceptable parts of life that you just have to laugh at – – it requires me to bring up the image of this woman and see her as a human being.
I have no idea how she thinks or what she feels. And I have no idea what drives her to be cruel. She likely doesn’t think she is being cruel. I believe she likely feels justified in each and every idea that she holds. I believe she believes that she has a right to say anything. And she does. I also believe she does not feel any responsibility for how this expression of herself might negatively affect another. That’s not quite it. I believe that she would temper her speech in deference to another woman whom she did not hate. I believe she believes she is perfectly justified in saying any hurtful thing that comes to her mind to someone whom she doesn’t like.
There are so many thoughts going to my mind right now. I don’t know if I can articulate the many issues that I have with this way of thinking. So I’m going to come back to my revelation. No matter her thoughts, her belief systems, or politics, her actions, she is a human being and deserves my compassion.
There is considerable depth of meaning in that word, compassion. The short version according to the Oxford dictionary: a strong feeling of sympathy for people who are suffering and a desire to help them. But it’s much more complex than that. A few synonyms include: pity, sympathy, empathy, fellow feeling, care, concern, solicitude, sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, leniency, tolerance, kindness, humanity, charity.
That list of synonyms covers a great deal of territory. Compassion is much more than feeling sympathy for people who are suffering and wanting to help them.