Conditional Compassion

Charity is not dependent upon policy. I think it could even be argued that charity that is dependent upon policy isn’t really charity at all. When we give out of obligation, or “serve” out of obligation, is that charity? I think, too many times, we fight for policy based on compassion. Compassion should not be an obligation. This does not mean that we should give up fighting for things we believe in. There are obviously some policy changes that can help us operate better within our charity and compassion. This does mean that we need to stop waiting for someone “more powerful” or “more influential” to do something and realize that we have the power to do something ourselves. 

There is a lot that is wrong with this world. Everything that is wrong with this world is not America’s fault, contrary to popular belief. Everything that is wrong with this world exists because everyone in this world has the capacity to do wrong. You are not excluded from this. You have the capacity to make life so much worse for somebody. You also have the capacity to make life so much better for somebody. The truth that everyone has the capacity to do something wrong does not negate the fact that everyone also has the capacity to do something right. The capacity of right that exists within everyone is often overshadowed by our capacity for cynicism. We only see the bad, even if it is surrounded by the good. We focus all of our energy on the bad that we are too exhausted to contribute any good.

We can all contribute good. This good doesn’t stop at our borders. It seems as if we no longer want to meet people where they are, but we want to work hard so that they can meet us where we are. I understand that there are a lot of hoops to jump through for people to legally enter our country. A country that people are risking so much to get into. A country that is full of freedom and opportunity. A country that is full of stories of people overcoming obstacles and succeeding. There is a greatness here that people all around the globe want to be a part of. There is a greatness here that people all around the globe can’t be a part of, and the laws and obstacles that are in place have been in place for a VERY long time. Most everyone agrees that some changes need to be made in order to ensure safety for those that are citizens and those that desire to be here. There needs to be changes to the process and policies. While we fight for whatever changes we feel are necessary in order for us to be individually and collectively compassionate to those in need, we must not forget that our compassion should not be contained by our borders. Quit waiting for people to meet you where you are, and go meet them where they are. 

You and I have so much to offer this world because you and I have the capacity for good. We sometimes tend to waste our time and spin our wheels fighting over policies that we forget that there are people out there that we could go to and meet their immediate needs. It’s important to question our motivations. When we fight for or against policies, practices or any other of the many things on the list of reasons we fight, are we doing so in the name of compassion or are we doing so in the name of allegiance? Do we fight because we care about the fight or do we fight because we love fighting? Too often we fight against each other when there is a whole world that is asking us to join together and fight for them. 

We have communities in our own backyards that are begging for help. We have families who are going hungry, or who don’t have access to proper education or healthcare. We have kids who are unable to participate in extracurricular activities that will keep them out of trouble because of reasons that we could so easily fix. We have homeless men and women on the streets fighting for their next meal. We have veterans who served our country so well that often go ignored and treated as if they are an afterthought. We have men, women and children who have suffered or who are suffering through the atrocities of human trafficking. We have people suffering in our country every day and our only response is “they should really do something ‘bout all that”. What are we doing about all that? Are we digging into the federal budget and looking for ways the government could’ve allocated money to these people, or are we digging into our own budget and looking for ways that we can allocate money to these people? We can, collectively, provide food for hungry families. We can work with local communities to help improve their educational facilities. We can work with non-profit health centers in order to ensure that people are getting the proper access to their healthcare needs. We can invest in after school programs to ensure that kids have a place to go after that bell rings. We can provide meals for the homeless. We can respect the veterans that we are indebted to and look for ways to serve them well. We can give to or participate in organizations that exist to fight human trafficking. We have the power and the potential. Why don’t we use it?

It doesn’t stop here. Compassion should not be stationary. Compassion should not be passive. Compassions capacity for mobility is what changes the world. Never stop fighting for the people you believe in, at home, but never forget that you can fight for those same people in their homes. Charitable dependence upon the federal government shouldn’t be enough. Often times, charitable dependence upon the federal government yields nothing more than an inefficient use of funds. Never stop fighting for the policies you’re passionate about, but also never forget to use some of your energy to fight for the people you’re passionate about. 

Please, continue to fight for safe and rational ways to accept those fleeing from dangers such as violence and persecution, but also be willing to open up the doors of your homes to those same people. Please, continue to pursue what you’re compassionate about, but question your motivations. Please, speak out against the policies you view as unjust, but remember that those policies have been around for years. 

Isn’t it interesting that we disagree on compassion? Something that seems so inherently good has been turned into something so divisive. It just goes to show the power that we have as human beings. We’ll use all of our energy to ensure that our power is used to continue to contribute to the divisiveness of compassion. Charity and compassion have turned into another political talking point in order to advance agendas or improve an image. We can blame current or past administrations, but at some point, we have to take responsibility ourselves. We have a sort of conditional compassion. Our conditional compassion is dependent upon headlines. We’re often more focused on making statements than enacting change. 

Just because our elected officials don’t do what we want them to do doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference. Let’s participate in active compassion. Let’s participate in collective charity. Let’s change the world, together!