Compassion -- how much can we afford?
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06-09-2011, 01:08 PM
 
Compassion -- how much can we afford?
We have discussed Capital Punishment in another thread and I used the concept of ‘compassion’ as one of my arguments.

What do I mean by compassion?

There are lots of synonyms that come to mind: empathy, pity, sympathy, concern, etc.

We usually feel compassion for someone whose misfortune is due to outside causes, not to the fault of the suffering person.

We feel compassion for victims, not fools or nasty people.

So the concepts of fault and forgiveness come into it.

Compassion also has degrees: we feel a lot more compassion for a rape victim than we do for someone who hit his pinky with a hammer by accident.

We do feel some compassion for a mentally retarded person, even when his actions were hurting others and it is recognized in a court of law. We think it is not his fault.

We may even feel some compassion for someone who did have a horrible life, was abused both physically and mentally and got so twisted out of humanity that nothing but fear and hate remains -- as long as we or our loved ones were not personally hurt.

At this point we need to bring in the concepts of ‘prevention’, ‘correction’, ‘self-defense’.

Does compassion mean forgiveness, in the sense that we just let it go by? Obviously not.

As I said in the “Capital Punishment” thread: “even though we have no choice but to defend ourselves”.

Do we want revenge? – I can see if our loved ones were hurt, we can’t just calmly contemplate compassion, we will feel that we want to blow the bastard away, if not worse.

However, as a society, with a more remote vantage point, with ample time to think it over, we may ask ourselves: what is justice here?

The question then comes up: is evil a religious concept (to be stamped out like satan’s deeds) or is it a disease?

I strongly believe in cause-and-effect chains. The person we want to punish was born as an innocent child. We are past the Nazis and do not think that certain skull-structures predispose one for crime. The innocent baby may have been born into an environment as cruel and unjust as it can be in human societies. He was shaped and formed by those forces to be what he became.

None of us can be sure if we would have done better in those circumstances. It is our world, we live in it, we accept it, we contribute to it, we share some of the blame.

Yes, we need to protect ourselves from effects of all kinds of disease: sickness and evil alike. Nobody would argue with that.

However, what level of protection can we afford?

A bullet, a rope, an injection is the cheapest and most convenient.

Can we not afford more?

In view of our current priorities of what we, as a society, spend billions on?

This is the question.
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06-09-2011, 05:07 PM
RE: Compassion -- how much can we afford?
Here's an example I'd like to use for this discussion:

A Mr. Steven Hayes broke into the house of the Petit family in Connecticut. He restrained Mr.Petit and beat him so severely he was barely recognizable. He then raped and strangled Mrs.Petit. He then proceeded to tie up and sexually assault their daughters, ages 17 and 11. While the father and 2 daughters were still alive, he set fire to the house and left. While Mr.Petit escaped, the 2 girls burned alive in the home.

How much compassion I feel for the Petit family? Beyond words. How much do I feel for Hayes? None. But he was a poor crack head. But he had a troubled childhood. But... but... but... No, sorry, nothing you can tell me will ever make me feel so much compassion for Hayes that I would want him to live a long life with a roof over his head, 3 warm meals a day, access to health care, etc. There are honest, wonderful people who's quality of life is a lot worse than that of a prison inmate. No amount of compassion can make me think that's ok.

English is not my first language. If you think I am being mean, ask me. It could be just a wording problem.
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06-09-2011, 05:40 PM
 
RE: Compassion -- how much can we afford?
(06-09-2011 05:07 PM)sy2502 Wrote:  No amount of compassion can make me think that's ok.

Fair enough.

Let's agree that we disagree and leave it at that.
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06-09-2011, 05:42 PM
RE: Compassion -- how much can we afford?
The bullet, rope and injection are a last resort, after the killings, maimings, rapes and cripplings, after the emotional trauma, the fire, the mourning community; after the police investigation and chase, the indictments and statements, the collection and analysis of physical evidence, the rounding up of witnesses and lawyers, the months of preparation by legal teams, the trial, the prison, the appeals....
That's a long, long way from cheap! And there's little or no compassion involved.

Compassion doesn't begin with tragedy: it begins with a caring community, before either the victim or the attacker are born. It begins with good pre-natal nutrition and maternal care, with clean and safe environments for babies, with good education and opportunities, with counselling when a child is troubled, intervention when a child is destructive.
We could afford that.
I'm not sure in what currency we can count the result of not doing that.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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06-09-2011, 05:51 PM
 
RE: Compassion -- how much can we afford?
Hate and Compassion

We may think our hate avenges some victim,
rights some wrong,
balances an evil,
we may believe our cause is just
and we have to hurt those back
who hurt us.

But, sooner or later,
we grow tired of anger and hate
(it takes so much out of us)
and search for redeeming factors,
excuses and circumstances
to spare us the tear and wear
of destructive emotions.

Admit it, old chap,
you have slowed down, mellowed,
do everything now
with new-found moderation:
your love is a warm, autumn glow,
your appetite is not ravenous,
and your capacity for hate
is seriously diminished.

Now you make excuses
for villains you hated before,
you tell yourself:
we are all victims here,
one way or another,
there is no original sin -
we were all dear babies once.

Luck influences who you've become:
smart or stupid,
healthy or sick,
good or evil -
something must have made you one
or the other -
we must never stop thinking
of causes and effects.

If you can maintain this vision,
this tolerance, this understanding,
then your anger yields to pity, sorrow
for all victims of the human condition -
your heart will find peace
in serenity, acceptance,
compassion.

But, alas,
so many of us can not forgive,
piling pain upon pain,
death upon death...
...victims victimizing,
infinitely, relentlessly,
and thus hate is perpetuated
until love has finally lost,
until hate has consumed all its fuel:
the last of us.
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06-09-2011, 09:19 PM
RE: Compassion -- how much can we afford?
Quote:Zatamon:
The question then comes up: is evil a religious concept (to be stamped out like satan’s deeds) or is it a disease?

Neither, of course. Evil is another of those attributes that humans have developed along with the big brain. It is a characteristic of our species; every human is born with a capacity to do evil. It is merely the temptation to do what benefits self to the detriment of another - in small acts or large, once in a long while or continuously. We all have the capacity and we all encounter some amount of temptation. How we respond to those stimuli varies greatly, for a huge array of reasons.
Evil can be neither stamped out nor cured. It can be mitigated, diminished, suppressed, overcome from moment to moment in each individual.
A good society is one that recognizes this and takes appropriate steps.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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07-09-2011, 04:43 AM
 
RE: Compassion -- how much can we afford?
(06-09-2011 09:19 PM)Peterkin Wrote:  
Quote:Zatamon:
The question then comes up: is evil a religious concept (to be stamped out like satan’s deeds) or is it a disease?

... every human is born with a capacity to do evil.

So is every human born with the capacity to develop leprosy or the bubonic plague.

We protect ourselves by quarantine arrangements, not execution.

Peterkin Wrote:Yes, i know, everything that's ever happened in the universe up to that point influenced everything you have to consider, the equipment you use to consider it with, and the proclivities that eventually make the final choice inevitable. But, as long as you're not aware of all those pre-determining events, you experience making a decision, freely, without constraints other than the current circumstances.)

In the "Free Will" thread, you recognized the cause-and-effect chains that lead to decisions, including decisions to do evil (my emphasis in the quote).

In this sense we are all victims, including the evil-doers, and we all deserve compassion.

Even though we have to lock some of them up for life to protect ourselves from harm -- but we don't kill our sick, not in civilized countries, anyway.

(An overwhelming majority on this planet, including all of Canada and 17 States of the USA.)
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07-09-2011, 07:05 AM (This post was last modified: 07-09-2011 07:16 AM by Peterkin.)
RE: Compassion -- how much can we afford?
(07-09-2011 04:43 AM)Zatamon Wrote:  
(06-09-2011 09:19 PM)Peterkin Wrote:  
Quote:Zatamon:
The question then comes up: is evil a religious concept (to be stamped out like satan’s deeds) or is it a disease?

... every human is born with a capacity to do evil.

So is every human born with the capacity to develop leprosy or the bubonic plague.

We protect ourselves by quarantine arrangements, not execution.

There is the difference between something you catch and something you do.

I didn't recommend execution, except as a last resort. I said a good society recognizes the potential of every individual to do evil and takes appropriate steps.
Which means: tries to prevent as much of its expression as possible, by removing temptation, by training the children in self-control and right action, by providing outlets for negative emotions before they become destructive, by early correction of anti-social tendencies, etc.



Quote:
Peterkin Wrote:Yes, i know, everything that's ever happened in the universe up to that point influenced everything you have to consider, the equipment you use to consider it with, and the proclivities that eventually make the final choice inevitable. But, as long as you're not aware of all those pre-determining events, you experience making a decision, freely, without constraints other than the current circumstances.)

In the "Free Will" thread, you recognized the cause-and-effect chains that lead to decisions, including decisions to do evil (my emphasis in the quote).

In this sense we are all victims, including the evil-doers, and we all deserve compassion.

Deserve? Maybe. But compassion is a feeling that comes unbidden, not an obligation.
And:
Quote: as long as you're not aware of all those pre-determining events, you experience making a decision, freely, without constraints other than the current circumstances.
Not quite fair, Zatamon. That was an argument for free will, not for universal victimhood. If individual volition is erased by the big cause-and-effect chain, then what's the point in telling people not to execute other people: they can't help it; nobody can help anything.
We go through the motions of argument, precisely because we do not experience ourselves as automata; we act as if we had choice. If we have choice, we have responsibility.

Quote:Even though we have to lock some of them up for life to protect ourselves from harm -- but we don't kill our sick, not in civilized countries, anyway.

Unless they're beyond repair. But that's another thread.

(And evil is still not a sickness; it's just the manifestation, in deeds, of greed, envy, fear, jealousy, lust, hate, pride, ambition.... all the traits and emotions that, in small quantities, we can control and channel harmlessly, but that should not be allowed to accumulate and fester, and should certainly not be encouraged by society.)

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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07-09-2011, 07:56 AM
 
RE: Compassion -- how much can we afford?
(07-09-2011 07:05 AM)Peterkin Wrote:  Unless they're beyond repair. But that's another thread.

Suppose we could repair them -- would we want to?

In spite of all the horrible things they did to their victims?

If the answer to this is 'yes' -- that would be a compassionate answer.
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07-09-2011, 08:16 AM
RE: Compassion -- how much can we afford?
"Evil" doesnt exist in my eyes............good vs bad is something that is a personal judgement based on moral experience.

Given that I am "free" of this belief.........then leads me to question what makes things happen.

EVERYTHING happens for a reason.....everything. There is no denying cause and effect that can attributed to everything in the cosmos......it is a truely "universal" concept......that something must happen to create something else.

People do things for a reason........wether it be murder, stealing, fraud, rape.......anys sort of crime or what you would consider as "bad"....there is ALLWAYS a reason/s behind it.

So................given that punishment of crimes, no matter how severe........have been around for hundreds of years and still people continue to commit crimes..........I wonder how long will people continue to be so short sighted and continue to hammer the symptoms with punishment.........without actually treating the cause that creates these problems.

How much compassion can we afford??? I see it from both sides (as i try and allways) and say..........How long can we afford to be without compassion.

For no matter how much I use these symbols, to describe symptoms of my existence.
You are your own emphasis.
So I say nothing.

-Bemore.
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