Where did all the compassion go?

Tonight and every Wednesday is the “Well” or drinking from the well of life. The “Well” is a place that we go to contemplate life and think about things that are troubling. Tonight’s post concerns something that has troubled me for the past few weeks.

I know it may sound preachy, but these are my thoughts on the matter of compassion and how I feel the world is losing its compassion for many things.


Compassion – Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.

The last few weeks have shown me things about my fellow-man that I hoped we had grown past. Among these are the resentment by a lot of Americans–yes I’m an American–of Japan winning the Women’s World Cup. See this for the comments on Twitter.

The other concerns the news of Amy Winehouse’s passing. Immediately after the news of her death the jokes started. I will not deface this post with any of them.

Amy Winehouse was a brilliant artist who fell into the same trappings as a lot of those seeking fame. Her addiction took the stage in a media frenzy and ruined an amazing artist. I have never been an Amy Winehouse fan, but I have compassion for her fight with addiction, because of my own.

I know my addiction is nothing compared to Ms. Winehouse’s I hope it never will be. Having empathy for someone and wanting to heal them is what compassion is about.

I was torn when the U.S. was to play Japan, on one hand I am an American and thus I wanted to win for America. I wanted Japan to win because I knew that it would be such a morale boost for a country that has suffered so much hardship in the last six months. I cared because it is part of being human, caring about others is who we are. Being compassionate to others is how we should be.

I heard so many things from people about how America deserved to win, no one ever deserves to win anything. After America lost I had no ill feelings, I was happy for Japan. My hope was their win would heal wounds.

After seeing the reactions of people in the States to the Women’s World Cup conclusion and the reactions of people to Amy Winehouse’s death. It became clear to me that some people who say they follow a faith, whether it is Christianity, Islam, Judaism or any number of other faiths don’t know the tenets of their chosen faith.

From Christianity:
“Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.” Psalm 112:4
From Islam:
“Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever is not kind has no faith.” – Buhkari Hadiths of Islam
From Judaism:
“Love of all creatures is also love of God, for whoever loves the One (God) loves all the works that He has made. When one loves God, it is impossible not to love His creatures. The opposite is also true. If one hates the creatures, it is impossible to love God Who created them.” – Maharal of Prague, Nesivos Olam, Ahavas haRe’i, 1
From Buddhism:
Whether one believes in a religion or not,
and whether one believes in rebirth or not,
there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion. – The Dalai Lama

I have practiced Buddhism for twelve years. I have been strict with it for only the last couple. Turning to Buddhism came to me when I most needed it. Someone close to me did something that set me on my current path. I was lost and looking for something, anything that would help me.

Looking at traditional religions–and their books–I chose a path that was not without rejection from my family, as well as the family of my future wife. In the west most people don’t understand what Buddhism is about.

They see the monks in their robes or the Dalai Lama and think that it is about being a monk, I know because I have been asked whether I am a monk.

Buddhism is now a part of my life as well as my wife and our children. Our kids are being raised not as monks but as compassionate children who know only what the teachings tell them.

My son is learning to meditate and what it means. I bought a book for our daughter that is much like the books I remember from Sunday School in a Christian church.

After the past two weeks and the things I’ve heard from people and things I have seen on the internet I wonder if there is any room left for compassion in this world.

There are so many ways to show compassion to someone or in the case of Japan a whole nation. I think I have donated more money this year to the Japan relief fund than any other. It is because I have always felt a connection to Japanese culture.

For Amy Winehouse I stated my reasons for compassion above. Some people have harder lives than others. Showing compassion to them in their time of need or even a hug to someone that is hurting can mean a lot.

Remember having compassion is part of what makes us human.

There are many things that I do to keep myself mindful of compassion for others, my meditation practice being one of them. I wondered the other day why there are so many angry people in the world. We use more energy in being angry than nearly all other emotions.

If we used the energy we waste on anger to show others compassion this would be a better world.


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4 Responses to Where did all the compassion go?

  1. This is a wonderful and heartfelt post. You highlight a very important point about the world today. I seem too many people being critical and uncaring of others, especially about the Amy Winehouse situation. Whatever anyone’s opinion it is still a tragedy and I feel for her family who tried desperately to help overcome her addiction. I especially liked the various religious quotes you used in your article.


    • BB_Baker says:

      Thank you for your comments. I had to do some searching to find religious quotes that fit with the idea of the post. I learned a lot doing that research.

  2. this was really interesting to read so thank you

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