In this day and age it is amazing how compassion is sometimes seen as weakness. There is a rush to judgement, to criticize and belittle those who speak of compassion. Not long ago I was watching a news report. In this report they were criticizing a politician who was speaking before an audience about her thoughts on compassion. She was talking about how we need to withhold judgement on those we see as enemies. We need to look at them with empathy and try to see things from their point of view. The talking heads in some media outlets were outraged. But wait, she didn't say we need to surrender to them, to give up or anything of the sorts. She said we should look at their plight with a bit of compassion so that we may better understand and maybe come to some common ground. The reaction from some was to vilify her, and to call her a traitor. You would have thought she was the enemy.
In the very city I now call home they passed an ordinance that makes it illegal to feed the hungry and homeless in public places. This is not a unique law, it is now law in at least 28 municipalities in this country. But my city was the first to actually arrest people who set up a food kitchen in a park to serve these hungry people. The fact there are so many hungry and homeless is heart breaking enough, but to outlaw trying to help these people is beyond gut wrenching.
Study after study says rather clearly that the homeless population in this country is made up of Veterans. The people who, at one time put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms. Yet we make it a crime to help these people with food. The politicians in most of these places, without a doubt, claim to be Patriots. Would a true Patriot look at a homeless Veteran and then make it a crime to help them? You cannot call yourself a Patriot and then refuse to help the most sacred of all of our citizens.
The lack of compassion was at its height for me this past summer with story after story of children coming across the Mexican border from Central America. It was unnerving how politicians, reporters, talk show hosts talked about these poor kids. Some even said they were spreading disease, drugs, terrorists or carrying Korans across the border. The reality was, these kids were seeking some sort of life that was above the hunger, torture and murder they experienced in their home country. Where was the compassion? These kids, no doubt, saw this great country of ours as a saving grace, a place of love and compassion. But when they arrived they were shunned and picketed. Many of those who were so adamantly vocal against these kids also claimed to be Christians. You cannot say you are a follower of Christ and then condemn the most needy among us.
I say we need to revive compassion as a sign of strength. Look to those we don't understand as teachers. Eliminating assumptions and judgments would go a long way to building compassion back in to our culture. I admit that many times I look at a homeless person and see them as a threat. If they ask for a handout I assume they will use it for something less than good. But who am I to judge, and how will I ever know? Is it not better to treat them with compassion? To offer a helping hand regardless of what their intentions are?
Getting back to my opening paragraph. How can having empathy for the enemy be a sign of weakness? Understanding what they are about puts us in a position of strength. Perhaps it may even show us why they see us as the enemy and help us find some common ground. Perhaps not, but without at least a bit of empathy there is no hope. The fighting will continue and most of us will not even know why.
We all have compassion within us, there is no doubt. Without fail, if someone saw a dog or cat struggling and hungry we would do what we could to help them. We would, at the very least, call someone who could provide shelter and food. As a culture so many of us would do that for a dog but not for a fellow human being. This I say is true weakness, showing compassion is the right way to live. Helping those less fortunate is the right thing to do. Compassion is strength!
If you call yourself a Christian you must follow the example of Christ and help those who cannot help themselves. If you call yourself a Patriot you must take care of those who were there to defend us.
Compassion is Christian, compassion is Patriotic, Compassion is STRENGTH!!!