A simple poem around Compassion

No, I am not standing at Epcot shadowed by the statue of compassion personified.

No, I am not cynical. I am neither distressed nor possessed, knowingly, but I am amused as writing about compassion would seemingly be a simple task and a simple poetic verse would stream. I think I am also not a poet.

Compassion is said to stand the tallest of all the virtues.

Compassion thus shares the stage with fortitude, honesty, patience, justice, humility, loyalty, generosity and honor. Nice companions for compassion, surrounded in perfection, oh, but wait! Virtue would be conformity – and I am already losing my sense of freedom to breathe.

I am on guard to conformity of one’s life and conduct to moral and ethical principles – this uprightness. Latin virtus signify manliness or courage. I am not courageous. Possibly I should refrain from expression as the more I continue the more I find personal inabilities to react accordingly. I am not a zealot.

I wanted a simple expression of compassion and now I am delving into societies set of mores. Graced by Moral codes, while peering into the eye of Ethics, I am asked to describe right from wrong and toss aside the laws of the land, locking down no meaning. Do we just give it to personal interpretation?

Just let me write a few simple lines. Does this compassion really need to entail my emotions of empathy for suffering? Oh, again, Latin bequeaths to us “co-suffering” – even suggesting alleviation of another’s suffering. Goodness! I have stated I am not courageous. In fact, I would say I am not truly altruistic. Do I follow the Golden Rule? Surely, I will do unto you as I would have you do to me. 

Altruism is a wrap about much religious tradition as it is pretty to be non-selfish. That would be a simple way to say embracing altruistic behavior wards off ugliness but if I ask, is there a duty attached? You would say, “expected – oh, sure.” Pure altruism requires and asks of thee – to sacrifice: time, energy, possessions and expect naught. How can that be? I expect a personal compensation of feeling good as I have shared, helped and possibly sacrificed. I am personally gratified. This is a debate in the making – wait! Where am I going? Drop this problematic penance and wade through my lack of promotion to interdependence. I refuse to promote, as Ayn Rand said, “…are we viewing humanity as a tribe of doomed beggars?” Once asked and I repeat, are we so desperate as we become indifferent to ethics due to our preoccupation with extreme situations while “real life” passes by?

I am in agreement with Rand; your highest moral purpose is the achievement of your own happiness. Does that preclude less compassion – NO! It celebrates and requires personal responsibility.

Barbara McDonald