Sunday, June 9, 2013

Compassion: Overrated?

Reports of rioting by welfare-collecting Muslim populations in Sweden beg the question:  can generosity and compassion be a bad thing?   France has been facing the same problem for decades now.  Is the old adage true that "no good deed goes unpunished"?  When is "doing good" not good?  The ostensibly compassion-driven welfare-state concept has a long history of crashing its host-societies, beginning in ancient Rome.  Even in modern times, a welfare state can only run for a few decades before it either crashes its nation (Greece, Ethiopia, etc.) or is pruned back (China, Sweden, etc.).  Libertarian rantmeister extraordinaire Stefan Molyneux is fond of pointing out that after WW2 and before the Great Society programs of the 1960's, poverty in the US was declining at one percent per year.  After those programs took effect...  not so much.  Compassion drives a society into action, and the result is a worsening of the situation that called forth our compassion in the first place.  This is a typical Neptunian dynamic

In recent years, the "Powers that Be" used the reported abuse of women by the ruling parties in Afghanistan as a justification for continuing the American war there.  The Kony 2012 hoax nearly succeeded in its aim to play on American sympathy for children, to justify a US invasion of Uganda.  The false testimony about Iraqis throwing babies out of incubators did succeed in supporting a US invasion.  History is full of examples of compassion as a justification for war.  Of course, when these "compassionate" invasions do happen, they tend to kill more innocents than they save, a fact conveniently and systematically omitted by mainstream media. 

The figurehead of the Anthropogenic Global Warming movement, Al Gore, has been a consummate master of employing our compassion for his own enrichment and the detriment of humanity.  Pummeling us with images of stranded polar bears and villages destroyed by tsunamis, he succeeded in whipping up a Dionysian frenzy of compassion for his signature cause.  Said cause and its associated government programs has earned him billions of dollars in back-room deals with the likes of Enron's Ken Lay and Goldman Sachs, and has had a truly horrific human cost far exceeding what global warming itself might be capable of. 

Of course, no exploration of the perils of compassion is complete without mention of that most "compassionate" of political philosophies, Communism.  If that most bloody of histories doesn't give one pause, nothing will. 

Pallas, the astrological champion of non-violence and peace, is not particularly emotional.  If anything, she is the opposite, rejecting all action based on emotion unless it meets her logical criteria.  This said, it is often completely in the realm of logical self-interest to help one's fellow humans in many situations.  Doing so generates goodwill and trust which can be helpful later -- helping persons who are genuinely grateful can give us friends and allies we in turn may learn to be grateful for.  Not helping when it is sensible and affordable for us to do so can harm our ability to operate in society.  Of course, there is also the simple pleasure of helping another:  a joy when we discover it for ourselves but a source of resentment when the State forces its politicized and horribly inefficient version on us.  Contrary to the dynamic of Neptune, who is not satisfied until we have given away everything without question and dissolved into oblivion, Pallas tells us when it's time to stop or to not act at all. 

Living in the domain of Pallas is probably not as exciting as jumping on the latest Neptunian sociopolitical bandwagon and losing ourselves in the frenzy of group emotion, but affords the best chance for us all to live and thrive in peace.  This, in the end, is perhaps more compassionate than compassion itself. 

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