Compassion is overrated.
Not because it doesn’t deserve its high position in the virtue ladder. It’s a pure emotion that begins where kindness and empathy end. It is stronger, more powerful, almost magical.
Not because we lecture our children about it or because we imagine it to be the solution to all problems.
But because the compassion we show as creatures of a supposed heart and soul is FAKE. We know no compassion. We feel no compassion. We only know how to FAKE it.
Are the wheels in my head rounding up one delusion after another? Or does this really bear any weight? Your call. But my mind is made.
The world is dying as we know it. Scientists proved that many years ago. Prophets and philosophers predicted this tortuous end as they played chess with spirituality and fate, way before ‘many-years-ago’. The decay was never limited to places of nature (global warming, deforestation, extinction, and pollution). It was supposed to be much worse. This is a sore truth humanity swallows every day.
People let hate take over. They turned on each other almost as soon they were created and set free. To do what? Create havoc and pretend to feel bad about it. And then, set themselves on a perpetual repeat mode of destruction and hypocrisy. So where does compassion figure in all of this? It doesn’t. It is a unicorn, an apparition, almost a myth.
And now, the bigger question. Why fake it? The righteous surely don’t need to. They came as Prophets, as Saints and as blue moons in our universe. They are the real deal, with no need to prove anything to anyone. And the self-righteous? One too many, like you and me. The worst of the lot.
People like you and me; who think they know how it feels to sleep on the streets; who think they know how it feels to be hungry and thirsty and to actually die from both.
People like you and me; who think they know how a mother feels when her six-year-old daughter is raped and left to rot; who think they know how a terminally depressed person feels trapped in the darkest corners of an unending alley they call the mind.
People like you and me; who think they know how a person suffering from cancer or HIV feels; who think they know how parents feel when burying their flesh and blood.
People like you and me; who think they know how loss of hope feels for a person who had nothing else; who think they know how it feels to be a child and never see the inside of a classroom; who think they know how it feels to see your entire family murdered in front of you.
People like you and me, who think they know compassion. But we don’t. We never did.
You want to know how we get away with it every single time? We cry a redundant tear, sing a morose tune, crumple our eyebrows and make the perfect sad face. We fill up our Facebook and twitter pages with tragic, flowery language thinking we have something in common with the sufferers. In return, we fill up with pocket loads of an emotional drug called compassion. A feeling designed to make us feel better about ourselves. A false assurance that we aren’t bad people; we have hearts that do feel for others.
Another reason we are so good at forgetting is because we know there is plenty more from where it all came from. Someone will always be dying or dead. Someone will always be unwell or unhappy. Someone will always be caged in hell. While spectators like you and me, will stare out with popcorns in our hands and a box of Kleenex for the tears we are all so good at spurting. Only, it is never a movie that we are watching. It is real life. They are real people. The only thing unreal here is our compassion.
And eventually, we move on. We go on about our
lame busy lives. Our regular transmission resumes as newer, brighter shades paint the grey away. Tears melt away and empty tunes thud loudly on our hearts. Facebook profile pictures and messages get back to normal. The final virtual signal that it’s time to move on. Because after all, we live only once. Why waste it on worrying for others? We already have a lot on our plates. You and I.
Worries? Oh there are plenty. Like how the heating in your house was acting up all winter. Or how you can’t afford to buy a new dress this summer. Or how you can’t get yourself to exercise. Or how you just can’t quit smoking. Or how you have such crazy working hours. Or how you haven’t done anything ‘fun’ in so long. Or how you have never been to Europe. Or how you can never fulfill your new year’s resolutions . Or how your toddler drives you up the wall. Or how you missed the buss. Or how you got a speeding ticket. Or how your kitchen helper didn’t show up today. Or how you didn’t ace your exam. Or how nobody noticed your new haircut.
So yes. Don’t tell me you have compassion, if you can’t feel exactly the same way as the people suffering in front of you. Don’t tell me you have compassion, if you can’t step away from your life and offer help, in any way possible. Don’t tell me you have compassion if you can’t pray for others with the same intensity and humility as you would for yourself. Don’t tell me you have compassion, if you can sleep at night knowing how profusely the world bleeds.
And if you catch me telling this lie, pinch me real hard. For I don’t do compassion. I only fake it.
All’s not lost. But it is certainly not how we make it out to be. We might have a kind streak in us. We might be caring towards certain people, certain issues, at certain times. But true compassion? In the words of Daniel Goleman,
“True compassion means not only feeling another’s pain, but also being moved to help relieve it.”
I won’t be convinced.