The absolute necessity of compassion.

The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.  (Psalm 11:5)

Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from the plots of evildoers.  They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.   They shoot from ambush at the innocent; they shoot suddenly, without fear.   (Psalm 64: 2-4)

Most people, if asked, would say that they would never attack a fellow human being without provocation.  Ask them if they’d stab a gay person, or a poor person, or a person of a different ethnicity, and most people would answer with an emphatic negative.  The idea of casual violence is appalling, and with good reason.  Yet, we use our words for casual violence at times without even thinking of the consequences.  People will say, “all poor people need is a good kick in the ass”, or “gay people want to destroy traditional society” or “all liberals are bleeding heart dweebs” without any thought to the violence that those words carry.  In fact, often such statements will be vehemently defended as if they are not only true but necessary to be spoken.

There is nothing to be gained from words that seperate.  By marking the poor, or the gay, or the other political party as some “other” whose problems you can solve, you make them your enemy.  By making the poor, or the gay, or the ideologues your enemy you cut a chasm into any discourse which can only be breached through strenuous effort.  Such division is not only fruitless, because by making the ‘other’ in the conversation your enemy you diminish the chance that they will listen to you with an open heart, but it is evil.  There is no force on earth more destructive than discord.  It is discord that ruins marriages (not gays), that impoverishes the poor (not just lack of financial means), and makes the difference between a statesman and a political hatchetman.  How can heaping discordant words onto the discord of the world possibly be used to heal the problems that plague our society?  Does throwing gasoline on a fire put it out?

Compassion is not just an ideal.  Love is not just a word to be written with sweeping hearts and glitter on  a high school girl’s binder.  Peace is not just some hippie dream that common sense can do away with.  Love, compassion, and peace must necessarily be the driving force behind not just actions, but words.  We must speak them into being, hold them in our hearts, and summon them with the strength of all of our actions.  If we want to change society for the better the first thing we need to change isn’t our president or our banks or our constitutions to reflect better “values”.  We must change our words.  By speaking words of compassion and understanding, we can bridge divides and do away with the petty arguments that continue to move our larger social discourse in such dizzying circles.  We can stop maintaining the barriers that insulate rich from poor, straight from gay, and liberal from conservative.  We can finally start to get to a place where our actions can hold equal force to our words.  For if we speak words of violence, our actions inevitably follow in kind.  (Be it with picket signs or guns.)

I’m writing this as the first real post of the next era of this blog, because I want all of my readers to hold in their minds the greatest goal that I have as a writer:  I want you, dear reader, to feel the love that motivates my word and the sincerity of my conviction.  We can change the tone of the discussions that prevail in our society.  We don’t have to accept that social change is brought about by defeating the opposition.

Let’s love the world to bits and pieces, and build something better.

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8 thoughts on “The absolute necessity of compassion.

  1. I read in a Book that the tongue has the power of life or death. I completely agree.

    However, I do not believe that the tongue (alone) is the entire story. I believe there are two other problems plaguing us. Our ears.

    Too many people have expectations of being offended or hurt. Therefore, they are already set on attack mode. Certain words or phrases just set them off. So much so that it has become a habit… a way of life for them.

    For instance when I say that it is not at all fare to compare a person’s ethincity or race (ie Jews or blacks) to gays or lesbians when speaking about civil rights issues, I will be called names. Being Jewish or black requires a certain set of genes from a specific gene pool. However, being gay or lesbian is a behavior, not requiring a specific set of genes from any proven scientific gene pool..

    Although it is politically incorrect to say (in today’s society), individuals behavior should not render them any special status or protection under the law (ie hate crime). A gay or lesbian person is no less beaten up or dead than a Jew, black or straight person is. Beaten is beaten and dead is dead.

    Having said that, do I believe that any person should be physically or verbally assaulted? Absolutely not! But by merely stating my point of view there are those whom would accuse me of doing just that.

    So, now, I ask you the question. Is there a polite way to disagree?

    • The question I would pose to you is when you make those points, what is your motivation? Many people make those points with the motivation to prove that they are right, end of the game. People react badly to that because what they want isn’t to prove who is right or who is wrong, but to have a conversation about what they feel and percieve. Words meant to win an argument shut the conversation down prematurely, or change the tone of it. While I will agree with your assertion that some people have “bad ears” for a discussion, I would caution you not to be quick to assign blame. For those of us who have a message we want to convey, getting that message has to be the primary goal even if it means exercising humility and changing the way we say what we want to say, especially when our words are echoes of points that have been made in the past at the barrel of a gun- which just about anything associated with sexuality has been.

      As for if there is a polite way to disagree, of course there is. There is a big difference between saying “you are wrong” and “this is what I’ve been led to believe.” For instance, look at the difference between saying, “the gay gene has never been scientifically proven.” and “it’s my understanding that sexuality is from nurture, not nature”. One thing says, “i’m right here”, and the other says, “there’s room to talk.” Of course, tone in conversation is something that has to be carefully cultivated. It’s not wrong that you have your opinions about sexuality. Just think, every time you share them, are you sharing them out of love? Are you sharing them with consciousness about the pain they could cause the reader, and trying to minimize that pain? Are you trying to enter into a discussion, or win an argument? If your only goal is winning, you’re sure to cause pain. Remember, always, that at the end of the day when it comes to sin, GOD is the only one that can win that argument. You can share your point of view, but the true and heartfelt conviction that it is true is never gonna come from you, it’s gonna come from the Big Guy.

  2. “By speaking words of compassion and understanding…” “We can stop maintaining the barriers that insulate rich from poor, straight from gay, and liberal from conservative.”

    I totally agree but until we stop allowing the press and the politicians to divide Americans into subgroups of race, religion, sexual orientation, income, etc. and then pitting them against one another; this will never happen. When someone patronizes a media outlet or votes for a politician that behaves in this manner that person becomes part of the problem, not the solution.

    • I completely agree, Mike. Divisive language has become a part of our society, and largely defines news, media, and especially the polarizing nature of politics.

      Unfortunately, too many people are willing to shrug it off with a “THEY started it” or “that’s just how it is”, instead of demanding and initiating change.

  3. Our words shape our paradigms; those who are fluent in multiple languages are perhaps more aware of this than most. Spanish and other romance languages, for instance, assign a masculine or feminine connotation to a word. Imagine, your entire concept of the world is framed by gender on a very fundamental level. It is subtle but profound.

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