Does Everyone Deserve Compassion?

Posted on Updated on


Individually we can’t fix the whole world, and seeing the awful things going on all over I’m sure that a lot of us would rather look away, so it’s wonderful to see so many people out there trying to help in any way that they can. Humans are strange beings. Most are instinctively compassionate. Not all though. We’re powerful creatures in our ability to hurt. Lately with all the barbaric killings of innocents, committed in ways premeditated to be both painful and terrifying both for those who are being so brutally murdered, and for those who see these things, I’ve been wondering what goes on the minds of those killers as they execute that final act. What would happen to them if in that final minute they found that they couldn’t do it? Probably their compassion lies elsewhere, and all they feel is hatred for their victims, so that’s not likely to happen. Those of us who feel compassion for their victims then get to feel hatred for them, and if we could hurt them in return, would we? Probably not.

Can you feel compassion for one who hates like that? The viciousness of the farm invasions up in Zimbabwe shocked me. The levels of violence seemed unnecessarily evil to me. A couple of things seemed senseless. Dogs, pets, and livestock were sought out and methodically beaten or maimed. The invaders would slash the tendons on the front legs of cattle, while their owners could only watch helplessly as the animals cried in pain as they crawled bleeding along the ground. Home invasions (a burglary where the robbers are fully aware that there’s somebody home) here in South Africa are the same. It’s not only about the stealing. Clearly they want to hurt, and humiliate as much as they can. An old lady was repeatedly burned with boiling water which the robbers boiled the kettle for, over and over to pour over her. Later she died from her injuries. They felt no compassion for the defenceless woman they did this to – no – their compassion lay with the victims of their own people who had been wronged by hers. Still. How can you feel compassion for someone who does that?

I find it pretty hard. I would very happily beat the crap out of anyone who did that if I could. I do understand the deep rooted hatred that causes such acts though. I just don’t accept it. Why should one person suffer for the wrongs of others, just because she’s the same colour as they were? The way the world is, with nations hating nations – remembering all the hurts of the past, compassion isn’t easy to come by. We’re human after all. I save my compassion for the helpless. I will never have compassion for those who choose to hurt or kill the helpless – no matter what has happened in their histories. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Sometimes terrible things happen to people, who then choose to go on and do further terrible things. Circle without end. They don’t get my compassion, because the choice to continue the cycle of terrible things is their own.

But at some point we’re all going to have to try and figuratively walk miles in the shoes of others, no matter how different to us we perceive them to be. Maybe understanding will help. I see voices raised by so many people around the world today, asking for understanding, and to not blame entire nations for the actions of some. They’re getting louder, and they’re getting heard, and we have to hope that our compassion for each other, regardless of race, colour, or creed, will become strong enough to overcome the actions of individuals or groups committing atrocities, and causing us to act with suspicion and hatred towards others who have done no wrong. Compassion may be our only weapon to break vicious cycles everywhere.