Monday, August 7, 2017

WHEN DID COMPASSION BECOME A SIGN OF WEAKNESS?

I recently read an article on compassion in the workplace. That made me think of compassion in any area of our lives. It seems to me that our culture has changed in the past few decades. I think the twentieth century was more compassionate than the twenty-first. Or, maybe it just seemed that way. 

It has become popular to step on those who are already down. Homeless people are considered to all be drug users or just lazy. We are quick to judge others when we have not a clue what is happening in their lives.

Women who feel they can't carry and birth a baby for whatever reason, are practically stoned and thrown out of the tribe on social media and by some people I know who attend Christian churches. There seems to be no compassion for a family where another mouth to feed means such a financial threat that the parents fear losing their home or one parent having to quit work and cutting the basic budget so much they can't pay the mortgage or buy groceries or medicine for other family members. The majority of abortions are for married women. 

I hear from wealthy people who never had to wonder if they could pay for the next meal, that there are jobs available, but people are just too lazy to work.
What about those women, usually, who have to quit work, move in with their parents to care for them? Care-giving is a huge responsibility. Many of them give up their own lives to make sure their mothers and fathers don't suffer, don't go without food, and that they get the proper daily care. Older people on a fixed income of social security, even if they have a small pension cannot afford to hire someone to come every day to take care of them.

I delivered Meals On Wheels for a while here in my county. 
I felt such compassion for the elderly, many who lived alone in a mobile home, who did not drive and never saw anyone but the person who delivered their free meal. In one of the richest countries in the world, it seems such a shame to see sick people with so little help.

At the time, I was healthy and strong, but imagined myself in the same situation one day. Now, much older, I wonder if I could end up the same way. As our necessities grow more and more expensive, and our income doesn't grow at all, many of us could be in the same boat. 

Also, people with invisible illnesses are often criticized as being lazy and living off the government. Where is the compassion for those people? Mental illness, rheumatoid arthritis, and other illnesses can prevent the patient from holding a full-time job. If they have to quit work and take disability, they are scorned because they don't look sick. They are afraid to take a part-time offer or do anything where they get paid because they could lose the disability which they desperately need. Our laws force some people not to work. 

We can't always judge by looks. I have diabetes, fibromyalgia, and MCS, none of which can be seen when looking at me. All of these cause extreme fatigue, and I use a handicap parking place when I can't manage the long walk from the parking lot. I ride the mobile cart in the grocery store. Invisible issues make us sick but don't always send us to bed. We trudge on as best we can. I wish people were not so quick to judge. That is God's work, not ours.

We as a people seem to have lost compassion for others. 
We openly criticize and hurt feelings. Shaming has become a way to hurt others. Remarks about looks, weight, clothing, and any way to find fault is used to make a person feel ashamed. If someone is different from us, we dislike or hate them. We hear so much now about the cruelty to children. If they dress differently from us, we accuse them of horrible things even when they were born here in the good old USA and are as American as apple pie. 

Social media has given a platform for mean-spirited people to spew out their ugliness without consequences. Name calling has become a huge problem. Even the president during the campaign called his opponents hurtful names for no reason. He got away with it, and I think that has brought out even more lack of compassion in our country. I have heard people defend him by saying, "Oh, that is just the way people in New York talk." I hope that is not true. I have friends from New York and they are not cruel to others. If they were, they would not be my friends.

The lack of compassion from people at the top is the worst. That is why I am a fan of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet. They use their wealth for the good of the downtrodden, to fix major problems in the world. That is why Jimmy Carter is my hero. This man, and his wife, Rosalynn, show their compassion and empathy. He has even stood up to the Southern Baptist Convention because he feels they don't give women the same rights in the church as the men. The Carters have spent their lives doing for others, giving voice for those who have no voice in this world. Most recently he has been a voice for women who are abducted and used as sex slaves. 

Here is my example of the difference between people with compassion and those who have no compassion. A social worker complained about some who try to obtain government help when she feels they don't deserve it. She thinks the programs to help the poor should be discontinued. She voted for Mr. Trump because she thought he would cut out aide for the people who can't make enough money to feed and house their families. 

Another person thinks, this program helps so many people who need it, I think we must improve it and keep it even if some take advantage. This person has compassion for others. 

A man on the street is begging. He holds a sign, will work for food. If I give him a few dollars will he use it to buy food? I don't know. But he is probably hungry and I would rather give him a little money than wonder all day if I denied him nourishment. I have compassion for anyone who is homeless or has to resort to begging. I am not overly religious, but I remember from my years in church what Jesus did. He had compassion for those who were in need. I don't remember reading where he made people prove they were in need before he helped. 

Some say they have more compassion for dogs and cats than for people. They have contempt for the common man. I wonder what caused such distrust in humanity. But I know that just because a man is poor financially doesn't mean he is poor in character. How many times have we seen a person from a poverty- stricken home become a highly respected person as an adult, and many times it was because of the hard times lived through. He likely faced shame, humiliation and wondered if he ever would make it. When we give a hand to those in need, we often make a difference in their lives and the lives of their children.

Perhaps if more people stopped to think, there but for the Grace of God go I, kindness and compassion would become the norm in our country. I like the TV show about the boss who disguises himself and goes to work in his stores or factories to see what the people do and think about the company. He walks in the shoes of those who do the menial tasks. He learns his shortcomings and how he can help those who are loyal even though they are barely hanging in there financially. The boss learns compassion, I think, by talking to his employees who do not know who he is, and he hears their personal problems.
Homeless Shelters
Most of the people in homeless shelters go to work every day. So it is not that people are not working. The problem is they can't make a living wage. They can't save up enough money to pay two months rent up front on a place to live. I recently overheard a clerk in a retail store say that she worked three part-time jobs. "I have to find a full-time job," she said. "I can't keep on like this working day and night."  

If you have not looked at the cost to rent a decent apartment in your town, why not check it out? The renter has to pay a deposit and then a first and last month rent before he can sign a lease. With most people in our country only having about six months emergency fund in the bank, you can imagine if one of the parents loses a job, how quickly a family can become homeless.



Homeless children are the saddest of all to me. My compassion level rises up and up when children have no place to call home and often don't know where they will sleep each night. It takes a terrible toll on their self-esteem and their trust of people in general. Sometimes they never get over it.

I have been on my soap box today and I hope you forgive my long-winded post. I hope you show compassion for those who are hurting, who are lonely, and who are in need. We might not be able to give money, but we can call or write a letter or share something we have. We can all give love and caring. That costs us nothing. 

What do you think? Is the world suffering from lack of compassion? If one shows compassion, does that imply weakness? 











2 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

Compassion is NOT weakness. Not, not, not.
Kindness, empathy and compassion are things we all need - whether we admit it or not. Yes, some people abuse programs designed to help the poor. There are also some people (not the same ones) who abuse privileges only available to the wealthy. That abuse has only ever triggered calls for the abolition of programs to assist the poor. Hiss and spit.
Your soapbox is getting a little crowded because I am right up there with you.

Glenda Council Beall said...

Thanks, EC, for getting on the soapbox with me. Sometimes things get under my skin and I have to write about them. I really like your comment about people abusing privileges only available to the wealthy. I had not thought of that, but it happens constantly. No one complains about those guys. They take advantage of "loopholes" for the wealthy and it is simply accepted.
They don't need those loopholes if they are already billionaires or millionaires. But how many do not take advantage. So many other ways that those who are rich take advantage.
I read a study that says the more money people make, the less compassion they have for the less fortunate. I can see that in people I know.
I appreciate your comments, EC. Enjoy your winter down under.