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Essay: "Compassion"

Hobbs, John Compassion is an Oxymoron

Compassion is an oxymoron within itself. To define compassion in its barest sense is to show sympathetic feelings. But to show sympathetic feeling without acting upon them in a positive way is a wasted emotion. Compassion, when properly acted on is wonderful and can benefit individuals and at times, whole societies. The world has hundreds of help programs that are fueled by compassion for the less fortunate, whether they human, animal, or flora oriented. Because of them in nearly all cases, our world is a better place.

We all have witnessed a lack of compassion but does compassion ever reach a point of overkill and give way to malfeasance guised as compassion? For some, compassion rules their common sense and to let any emotion rule your common sense is to invite a subjective generalization of your surroundings that pacifies the controlling emotion. But even when balanced with other emotions and viewed through the eye of common sense, compassion can be a double edge sword. For example, a clinically dead person who medical experts all agree has no chance of recovery...is it more compassionate to keep the person alive in a vegetative state, or allow them to pass on? Either act is an act of compassion, but depending on what side of the debate you're on, either act can be considered an act of cruelty. Is it compassionate to indefinitely allow over populated areas of the world to continue to procreate when they are unable to care for the children they have even with the help of air lifted food and medical aid from other countries? Or would it show a stronger compassion for the welfare of the yet unborn babies who are doomed to a miserable life span of a few months to a few years, to attempt to temporarily halt procreation until the spread of disease, and starvation can be checked and reversed? These are two examples of why I say compassion is an oxymoron--There are many more. I believe that everything- especially emotions- need to have limitations and absolutely everything need to be in balance with and viewed through the eye of common sense. For example, if every person has complete freedom without limitations to that freedom then in the end, all you will have is chaos... as with compassion. Compassion, left unchecked to rule common sense, will ultimately walk that thin line that borders cruelty. That ability to analyze a situation and use compassion objectively for the some benefit of the subject and not to blindly feel the need of controlling emotion for self appeasement is, I believe, the act of true compassion.