The Real Deal: Compassion is not weakness

Aditya Tiwari

Hello again readers! This semester’s almost come to a close, and I hope we can all find it in ourselves to finish strong in the coming week! This week, I’d like for us to look at something a little bigger than politics and worldly issues. What I’d instead like to discuss is the idea of compassion, and where it seems to stand in human thought, or at least my lowly perception of the latter.

Compassion, goes beyond empathy, in that motivates one to help out, in response to the misfortunes and sufferings of another. It’s been discussed and valued in just about every world religion, and it’s been the driving impetus behind many of our greatest stories, true and fictional. Time and time again, it’s been described as one of the highest virtues and acts a human being could be capable of, and it would seem almost as though one should be capable of small, compassionate, if not at least kind acts without an afterthought. It would seem as though that’s why humans can function effectively in groups, as larger civilizations and societies, because empathy and compassion can enable them to understand one another. Yet still, Human beings have never seemed to be more disconnected. Still there is violence, prejudice, and hate, in a world that is wholly capable of good. Can this dichotomy be explained at all?

Ignorance, greed, and fear, in my view, are the roots of all hate, and all apathy. The societal woes that are borne of bigotry are made of ignorance and fear. Phenomena such as racism and homophobia persist to this day, because as a collective group, we hold onto outdated and simplistic information about the things we don’t understand, instead of making an effort to actually getting to know people better. Because of our fear to understand the unknown, we push away people who don’t fit the norm, ultimately dehumanizing them in a last-ditch type of effort to prevent the possibility of ever seeing eye to eye with them.

Sometimes, I feel we live in a world where we are encouraged to be selfish, and define our worth by how much we can own. In such a mindset, all that really matters is stopping someone else from getting ‘what we want’. To this end, we’ve even had people try and legitimize that type of thinking. This is why I can’t truly sit with doctrines such as Ayn Rand’s idea of ‘objectivism’ where she essentially argues that it is truly moral to be selfish, and that it can be considered immoral to help someone, and that it is truly weak to feel pity or sympathy. Trying to justify greed like this, is only a facade, in my view, to dress the fear that greed is based upon, and to let that fear justify poor decisions and actions, by which so many today remain in hunger and poverty, by which we allow the earth to be polluted, and our wildlife killed, by which we justify deaths if it can make a broader profit.

For every entity that told you were weak  or wrong for ever caring, or wanting to do the right thing, I’d like to tell you, you, you weren’t. It takes strength to practice compassion. It takes strength to do the right thing. Compassion is not the ideal of the weak, it is the test of the strong. In my humble opinion, it will take the gentle touch of understanding people around the world, to fix our deepest rooted problems, not brute force.