Absolute and infinite compassion

by Bob Schwartz

Compassion is hard. Absolute and infinite compassion is much harder.

Even in the close and dear circle of those you love, there are moments and circumstances in which they test you. The next circle out of acquaintances and colleagues also seem to occasionally act in ways that demand compassion be stingily parceled out; you are, after all, not a saint. By the time you reach the outer circle of current news, there will be those who might need compassion, but as thoroughly evil leaders and bad actors, do not deserve any of ours, and you will deny them. Who could blame you?

Absolute and infinite compassion does not mean ignoring, forgetting or forgiving what darker things we know about others or, for that matter, what they may know about us. There those things are. In the face of that, though, we hold compassion as a valuable currency, from some perspectives our most valuable. We can spend it freely on anyone, without condition or limit, no matter the circumstances. For those who favor economic metaphors, instead of compassion being devalued because of such free spending, flooding the market, the value goes up, way up.

Is this some idealistic, head in the clouds, good-hearted theory? You may think so. Is it hard? Very, sometimes seemingly impossible. Is it good for us? It is good for you and everybody.

When you see that guy in the news (and it could be any number of guys these days, take your pick), you may think “I am not spending any compassion on that,” it is not surprising. It is an understandable struggle. But as odious as it is, give it a try anyway. You are in possession of a superpower, and as every superhero knows, the real challenge is using your power on the worst villains.