Almost everyone agrees that compassion is good. Most religions say we should be compassionate. Compassionate behavior has been shown to increase your mental and physical health.
So we are all compassionate of course, right? Yes we are, because compassion is a natural instinct, found in all the higher animal species. Maybe in some of the lower species also, who knows.
Compassion is all good, for everyone everywhere. So there should be no problems in the world, right? Everyone knows they should be compassionate, so everyone tries to be. And since it’s a natural instinct we don’t even have a choice — we are compassionate like or not. Except maybe some depraved sociopaths.
As long as everyone behaves with compassion, things should go well for our society. Oh, but darn, there are all those greedy selfish people who tend to be in charge. They ruin it for all the rest of us, right? The 99 percent are good, it’s that greedy 1 percent that ruins things.
Tell me if you think I’m wrong. Isn’t that a summary of how compassion is seen in our society? So why do I care enough to write about it, since we all agree and there is nothing else to be said.
I am writing about it because I think it is total BS. I think it is all wrong, and it can’t be right, because if it were right then nothing would make sense.
The extreme pro-compassion view is more likely to be associated with progressive, or leftist, politics. However it isn’t limited to that. It is everywhere in modern society, in all ideologies and philosophies and religions.
One problem I see with the compassion craze is that ironically it promotes hatred. People who value compassion are likely to despise the greedy villains who ruin everything for the rest of us because of their lack of compassion.
But the main problem I see is that the whole theory is wrong, because it is rooted in modern reductionism. And what do I mean by reductionism oh this post will be a hundred pages if I try to explain, so I will skip ahead and say I am promoting a holistic, systemic, view of things. The holistic perspective is mostly ignored in our society, which I think is really too bad. Yes we have holistic medicine, but we also need a completely holistic way of thinking about everything.
The trouble with the ideal of compassion is that all concepts are completely empty unless they are seen in context, in relation to other concepts. The word “love,” for example, is thrown around all the time with no attempt to say what the concept means. And the word “compassion” has the same problem.
I want to give a simple example that I hope will easily explain what I mean. Let’s say there is a big male gorilla who is the boss of a bunch of females and their babies. The females are responsible for protecting their babies (and they know this because nature has given them the compassionate maternal instinct), and the big alpha male is responsible for protecting the whole bunch. He also knows this because of his natural instinct for compassion, for loving his “neighbors,” his social group.
So let’s say a lion wanders in to the gorilla’s territory, hoping to eat some gorilla babies (I don’t know if lions really eat gorilla babies, this is just an illustration of a concept). The big alpha gorilla has NO compassion for the lion. He fights it off or scares it off, or whatever. Because the gorilla has compassion for his females and their babies, he MUST NOT have compassion for the lion. He would be glad to kill it if possible.
Ok, that example wasn’t very good? Here is another one. Our bodies are constantly at war with things that try to make us sick. There are immune system cells that try to destroy any cell that does not belong in the body. These immune system cells are acting out of compassion (well, something like it anyway), but they have NO compassion for the invading cells they try to destroy.
Ok, here is one more example and then I promise I won’t give any more examples, I will just hope you get my point. A mother wolf is protecting and feeding her babies, because she is naturally compassionate and she loves them and wants them to live. And her babies are so cute, after all.
The mother wolf goes out and finds some baby rabbits and kills them and brings them to her babies. The baby rabbits are cute too, but she doesn’t care. She has NO compassion for the baby rabbits.
I hope I have explained what I have tried to explain. I suspect people will either say that’s ridiculous, or else they will say well duh that’s so obvious.
Hi all, Ron here….Sunday I went with my friend Mike Perini to the Ark here in Ann Arbor to see Altan, an Irish band I’ve seen for a long, long time now. How long? I’ve managed to get them over time to sign all my disks!
They’re enormous fun….I strongly recommend seeing them if you can.
I also got an interview about the new album with lead singer Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh, seen in this pic with Mike and I
And here’s the interview!
Nothing much to say. Some things are good, some things are not so good, a lot of things are middlin’ to fair. About the only thing that’s even remotely interesting that I can think of is that I discovered last night that my wife had never heard of Willie Sutton. Huh. But that tells you how uneventful things are down here in Central Florida. (Or up here, to Annie.)
That is all. Next month Ron will hit you with an update. I’ll see y’all again in May!
ADDED: I did have one more bit. This is me telling on myself a bit. I discovered just last week that an obit really can make my day. I’m a little embarrassed by that fact, which may be a sign that I’m human after all.
Hi all, Ron here…..yes, yesterday I turned 57! I had a fine birthday dinner with my old amigo Mike Perini, at the Zingerman’s Roadhouse. Any and all Ambioids who get up here to Ann Arbor…we’ll go and have a great time.
What was birthday dinner you ask? Andouille sausage Mac ‘N Cheese….luxurious cheddar cheese with Z’s house made red-hot (spicy hot) sausage….it was sublime. Plus a side of their fantastic mashed potatoes. And of course aided and abetted by two Old Fashioneds. one with Rye, one with Bourbon…for taste testing! You do get a free desert on your birthday, and I chose the raspberry white chiffon cake….
Sorry I haven’t been around much…things are looking poorly for me at the moment, and soon I will have no where to live. (long story) But I haven’t quit, and am trying to make things better. My OT, Jodie, has been my strongest support of late. She is convinced that this will be my year. Me…I wonder. Also the Noble Karen from this watering hole, has been both a support…and a delight. She channels the power of Cow Luck, through the phone to me. There are many disadvantages to getting older….but one of the many advantages is that you know more who you are and what has meaning to you. I’m surprising happy with me, despite a life of one damn disaster after another. This is not a trivial thing. For example I recently found out my younger (of two) sisters died at age 65…and she died in December 2012! No one told me, and I wasn’t even in the obit. I went the website of the funeral home she was in, and found 15 family pics…that I have never seen… I enclose one taken in 1960 with Baby Ron looking like Bismarck sitting on Mom’s knee…the late sister is on the far left, Diane. Grandma is in the middle.
This led to a very ugly confrontation with the older sister…but it was good for me to get all that anger out, and I’m now done with scant family I thought I had.
It’s funny to say, but my online friends, many of whom I’ve never met, including Amba, mean much more to me than many of my “real world” acquaintances. Thank you all for just being there and being yourselves. I’m a better person for that. Let’s add some ketchup to this year and make it better than the last…well, too many!
Tonight my daughter, four and a half years old, stayed up to ring in the new year for the first time in her young life. While she was dancing to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” around 11:45, it occurred to me that she’s just going to get more energetic in coming years as Kim and my energies fade. DEFINITELY should have done this whole parenting thing when we were younger!
Anyway, hope you’re all set for a better 2015 than 2014, no matter how good the last year was. ‘Night, all.
It is December 2nd….a leading holiday in the Ron Calendar….Austerlitz Day! Some celebrate it for personal reasons, some for a bigger, nobler purpose. But rather than merely celebrating eating or the glories of ones faith, Austerlitz Day is intended to bring out your greatest awareness and empathy for the self you have been honing and crafting your whole life! Rout what foes you have in life, send them into chaotic retreat! Drag out your Chandler’s Campaigns of Napoleon and put yourself in the point of view of the emperor himself, at least for this day!
It’s 4:30AM and I can’t sleep….and Karen has been up for half an hour already. It’s the Day before Thanksgiving …. is that Green Wednesday? Whatever did happen to Mauve Monday? or Ecru Shrove Tuesday?
Who here in the Fortress of Ambiance is having a NON traditional holiday? Sushi? Lasagna? Cajun Popcorn? Just curious…
What do you do when you can’t sleep? Something unusual? Do you just give up and wake up and do something?
Folks are already gone around here…Is anyone traveling?
Many people I know kind of tie Thanksgiving and Christmas together in some fashion. Some go to one parents family for one holiday, and the other for the other. I have several friends that work one holiday but not both!
My Occupational Therapist has just had a beautiful baby and shared sweet pics with me…no posting though, unless she says OK.
Die Hard is usually my Christmas movie…but Thanksgiving….hmmm…do you have a Turkey Day Film?
At any rate…Enjoy your holiday, eat too much, maybe watch football, maybe do lots of snoozing….it’s good to have traditions!
Your Ambient Friend,
Anyone that cares to can look at my latest post on the current labor situation in the USA over at my own site. It’s actually worse than I supposed. Not as link filled as usual, as originally it was just a string of comments.
Otherwise, how’s everyone doing? I hope you and yours and your cows are all enduring the arctic blast, Karen, and hope this finds all of the rest of you well, too.
Not much happening here, though I may finally get something tested soon. (Woo AND hoo.) We’ll see.
And a friend and his wife had a surprise adoption of a new baby over the weekend! I’ll write up more about that later, when I confirm I can share the story more widely, but I’m quite thrilled for them.
Well! Halloween has arrived and Ron is clearly in fine fettle….well that was me back in the day….these days…
But we soldier on, don’t we?
Go out there and have fun…and if it gets a bit messy….take a shower!