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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Compassion's Value Has Limits

Further on Prager's "Feminization" article, Allen Gorin writes:

There is a Talmudic saying appropriate to this subject: "He who is compassionate when he should be harsh will, in the end, be harsh when he should be compassionate." (alternatively expressed as "He who is compassionate to the harsh will, in the end, be harsh to the compassionate.")

Compassion is a wonderful trait. So is love, conviction, tolerance et al. But like knowing which tool in a toolbox is appropriate for a particular situation, the key to life is knowing when it's wise to be compassionate (or tolerant, loving, ????) and when applying such a trait is likely to bring negative results.

The Bible's Book of Ecclesiastes, in its most famous passage, drives home this point of balancing life's traits in the following verse:

"To everything there is a season.
And a time for every purpose under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh....
A time to keep silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace."

Those who have made "compassion" their God also bring to mind one of my wife's favorite sayings: "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!" Lacking other mental/moral skills with which to engage life's challenges, these compassion-extremists play head-trips with themselves in order to square reality with their limited mindset. Most often, this manifests in their failure to confront evil, because their "value system" simply doesn't know how to deal with it. So they rationalize away evil's existence, in one way or another, managing to feel good in the process. That is, until they get mugged by reality--after which the brightest bulbs in the pack become conservative.

PS For those of you tempted to think that I'm some sort of Bible scholar...........I'm not. I learned most of Ecclesiastes' famous passage courtesy of the 60s group The Byrds, in the hit "Turn, Turn, Turn." According to Neal, the Byrd's Greatest Hits album was one of only two that I ever bought--what can I say, I'm a frugal guy--and so I memorized every word on both albums.


At 3:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a great story. Waiting for more. »


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