Apologies for my absence from the blog for a few weeks. I've been in a weird place mentally. I still am truthfully. But I had a rare beer tonight and that seems to have quieted my thoughts enough that I'm going to attempt to write.
Recently, I was listening to a Daily Wire backstage podcast episode. I don't agree with much of what they say, but it's one of the shows I listen to in my attempt to listen to opposing viewpoints. I was zoning out until I heard Michael Knowles say, "many suffer from the misapplication of compassion."
Something about that wording I found intriguing. I don't remember what this was in reference to, nor what followed. I carried on with my day, the words echoing in my head from time to time.
At some point, I decided I needed to analyze what I found so interesting about this series of words. Despite the fact that it had a nice ring to it, a rhyme of sorts, there was something deeper that warranted exploration.
As I often do when I hear a phrase or quote that I like, I sat down and did a quick online search to see if it had been used elsewhere. Nothing. It seems to have been an original thought by Michael. With no leads to go on, I needed to break down the words.
Compassion in a nutshell is being conscious of the distress of another and having a desire to help alleviate said distress. It's safe to say that compassion is something we hold as a virtuous trait. I don't think I've ever heard compassion brought up in a negative light. Perhaps this is what piqued my curiosity.
The term misapplication lends that the compassion was wrongly placed, or that the actions to alleviate suffering were poorly implemented. Could it be possible to fail at an application or compassion? Isn't the very sentiment positive?
I don't think compassion itself can be a negative trait. The key is in the word misapplication.
All good humans have the capacity to feel compassion and empathy towards our fellow humans. The fear however is that we may proceed to let compassion drive other areas that may be better served by science, psychology, and other fields of thought. When we let our compassion be the primary driver, we seek to shut down things that may have an element of truth to them in order to maximize the relief of the individual to which we feel compassion. We may slowly bend science, terminology, and textbooks to fit a compassion-based narrative that may not have many roots in reality.
Like anything, compassion is but one driver of many that should be considered when making decisions, judgments, or policies.
The example they discussed on the podcast was that of Olympic and tennis athletes withdrawing from competition due to mental health concerns. People were singing their praises and calling them brave and a role model. Saying they were the best to play the game and that they hoped they would be an inspiration to other athletes.
I'm sorry, but no. As a person with severe anxiety, I can attest that it can strike at bad times. However, if I could not compete due to anxiety that does factor into if I should be considered an elite athlete. Superstars are the marriage of mental and physical ability merged into performance. If LeBron James decided he could not play in game 7 because he "wasn't feeling it" he would rightfully have people upset with him.
You can have compassion for them. Mental states are finicky things and I feel for anyone struggling in said areas. These individuals should still try to perform, and if they can't, gracefully withdraw. But we shouldn't necessarily hold them up on a pedestal the same way we would the person who persevered and won gold.
Another example is body positivity. A slightly different form of compassion perhaps. You need to have compassion for yourself, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you shouldn't try to improve, exercise, or lose weight. Lately, there have been instances of people that have shared weight loss progress only to be shamed online because it might send the message that there is something wrong with being overweight. We can still have compassion towards ourselves and others that may struggle with weight, but at the end of the day, if you can be healthier, you should.
The next example I want to tread carefully. I have compassion toward the LGBTQ community. I think that you should love who you love. If you want to marry them you should be able to with no judgment. If you wish to have surgery to align with what you feel you are then that should be an option. There's nothing I wish more than to allow them to act in a way that feels the most befitting to them. Homophobia has no place in the modern world. However, I was listening to Neil Degrass Tyson on a podcast talking on sex and gender. The explanation he was giving was convoluted and frankly, wasn't very sound. It felt as if the science was being re-written to cater to the emotions of the LGBTQ community.
We should always feel compassion towards all our fellow humans. There is never an excuse to belittle or do harm to others. But we also need to understand that compassion does not equal truth. Compassion does not always equate to sound policy either. We must beware of the misapplication of compassion.