Compassion isn’t a funny word, but it is one of the easiest to hide anywhere. Just sit back and let the world go and bite, scratch, and maul each other and you will never be accused of being compassionate. I mean, why bother if a church is vandalised or a temple desecrated? Why lose sleep over a few paragraphs of someone’s essay lifted by someone else to earn money? Why bat an eyelid if someone on the social media claims someone’s photograph as his own… or copies a tweet… or designs and artworks? The problem with compassion is that it soon manages to kindle other emotions like ‘down with evil’ or ‘march against this or that’ or ‘join a candle-march’ or ‘protest’… and sometimes these seemingly harmless actions go and evolve into massive revolutions that can put fear into any heart. So yes, compassion is actually just a beginning of all other shades of passion that may or may not be on the right path! Now I’m not asking you to dump compassion… all I am saying is to be quite critical of compassion even when you decide to adopt it as your child and want to nurture and nourish it. After all, empathy and sympathy help us all, and care, concern, solicitude, sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, leniency, tolerance, kindness, humanity, and charity are words that give the human mind an enviable high.
Now that you know that even compassion isn’t to be bandied around without understanding it completely and without a serious intent to adopt it on a long-term lease, let me add that the word does have its funny moments. I was talking to a bureaucrat once and asked, ‘What degree of compassion do administrators need?’ The official was obviously harried by all the dharnas around him and the agitated state of his minds got reflected when he replied, ‘Well, kam passion is what the aam janta needs…’ (‘kam’ here means ‘less’ in Hindi).
There is another incident that I recollect that clearly had compassion in a distorted pronunciation playing a major role. I asked this wannabe politician, ‘We need compassion and not tussles between religious groups. Why stoke hatred?’ The politician looked at with disbelief and replied, ‘I think you journalists do not understand kaum passion at all.’ I realised then that in his mind he was pronouncing ‘com’ in compassion as ‘kaum’ which meant a race.
What did I say right at the start of this article? – that compassion isn’t a funny word. Despite all the ways people may interpret it, compassion remains a word that connects us to each other and is essentially nothing without the kernel of passion that forms its core.
Though beware… compassion has its own hybrids and clones lurking in the shadows and sometimes even in the open. Recognising these pseudo compassion mongers isn’t easy but then let me tell you about a few.
My inactions, my wrong moves and yet I sob
Makes me a compassion sucker out to rob
Gimme some attention and some limelight, dear
I’m ill, I’m disabled, & I need fame here!
Deluged by a tsunami of disasters, to fundsters I say
I have compassion fatigue now, come some other day!
Compassion, I think, is getting more and more complex now. There are people who know how to manipulate this simple emotion and get the best for themselves without the victims even knowing that they have been duped. This happens all the time. I know quite a few who opt for a pdc or a public display of compassion to get the right number of social hits!
I’m sure you have people who go around rattling off statistics of their compassionate contributions to make this world a better place! Well, not that their money isn’t useful or wanted, but I seriously object to the way they massacre the subliminal intent of an honest word.
All that I ask of my readers is to use compassion in liberal doses but never to go on and decorate your Facebook page with your ‘compassionate flings’, don’t tweet about imagined sojourns into the land of compassion, and please refrain from clicking selfies to show the world how compassionate you are. These compassion tactics do not work, my friend… because compassion is a strangely lonesome word and comes alive and thrives only when it isn’t powered by interests that are anything other than compassion itself.
Post written for 1000 Voices of Compassion.
Humanity and goodness is linked… and this post with the posts of a 1000 other bloggers across the globe will help bring to compassion the passion it needs. Read other posts here.
20 February 2015