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Commentary on Compassion


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The Compassion of the Individual

Commentary by joshowitz5 - April 6, 2004



This is not about the movie the Passion of the Christ. I haven?t seen the movie, and I probably never will. Not that I?m protesting it. As a Buddhist, I am not really within the "target audience" of such a film. As a visually impaired person, I don?t see movies with subtitles. However, what I think is most important to remember during this Easter week, however, is that Christ, even while his enemies ravaged his body, never allowed his spirit or his compassion diminish. Even after he rose from the dead, he spoke not of avenging his death, but of peace and compassion. In the times we find ourselves right now, we should all remember that compassion is the message of all religious leaders throughout time and locations, and for good reason.




A Buddhist precept is the interconnectedness between every life. Given that we are all connected, any act upon another life is in essence an act upon our own life. Therefore, if we are compassionate, that compassion ripples through the lives around us. Conversely, destroying life will emanate out and cause destruction throughout our environment. The Golden Rule says the same, in a compact form. I am sure there are more sentiments by other religious leaders about compassion, and if anyone knows of any, please let me know, I would be very interested. Nevertheless, the one theme that runs through all of these teachings is that we are all in this boat together, so whenever someone rocks it, we?re all in danger of falling out.




The Iraqis that attacked four Americans rocked the global boat, but Operation Vigilant Resolve is not the answer. We must show, as a nation, compassion to even those who do evil. Those people are violently aggressive and most likely driven to madness by their perspective of what Americans are doing. These people are part of the global community, and they deserve our compassion. Jurors in Texas showed compassion to an obviously insane woman. We have shown compassion to those who lynched fellow Americans not that long ago. Our strength is in compassion. We need to build on that strength, instead of the phantasmal strength of arms.




I know it is hard. It?s hard for me not to be elated that the mastermind of the Madrid bombings is dead. It?s difficult for me to push compassion in the faces of the families of the four Americans so brutally killed. The challenge of behaving compassionately is in itself a reward, and will help ease the pain and frustration of losing a loved one. When we show compassion, we grow as individuals, beyond our enemies. We mature and increase, growing out of our old biases and hatreds.




I hope that this week billions of Christians around the world celebrate the compassionate message brought by the son of their god. I hope they remember that, as the story goes, Jesus could have retaliated against his attackers. He could have brought down a "can of whupass" to make the US Shock and Awe demonstration look like a couple kids with a box of fireworks. Instead, he realized the power of compassion and forgiveness. He knew, like all of the great religious leaders past and present, only compassion will lead us to greatness. I hope all of those citizens are looking around at the world asking, "What Would Jesus Do?" I am a confessed outsider, so I can only imagine what he would do, but I can guess by what Paul said (Romans 12:19-21). He references the Old Testament (Proverbs 25:21-22) for those who aren?t big on anything before Matthew.




"Evil begets evil, shooting it only makes it stronger," as Vito Cornelius says in the Fifth Element. Let?s try to remember this on this confluence of religious observances. As we say in Buddhism, may there be peace throughout the world and happiness for all of humanity.

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