on Compassion

“Compassion is defined not by how many people are on the government dole, but how many people no longer need government assistance.” ~ Rush Limbaugh (b.1951) conservative political commentator

One of the biggest arguments used to justify spending more taxpayer money, implementing a new program, a new law or a new regulation is that it is being done “out of compassion”. And therefore, by extension, if you happen to disagree with their argument you must lack compassion for the people who benefit from these decisions made by elected officials and bureaucrats. Since no one wants to be known as uncompassionate, it’s no wonder that people often feel forced to remain silent rather than offer other ideas.

The problem with this is that it is a false argument. It is not the role of government to be compassionate – it is the role of people, acting freely upon the prompting of their hearts. Compassion is a deeply personal thing; after all, one man’s definition of compassion could be another man’s definition of enabling. However, when it is used as an excuse to justify an action of government, and intimidate their opponents into silence, it is no longer about compassion. It is about control. Is compassion really compassion if it must be forced?

When politicians, or any other bureaucrat for that matter, appeal to your “feelings”, get ready to be emotionally manipulated in order for them to get you to do something you would not normally choose to do on your own. Emotional manipulation is the tool of those who seek to control, and appealing to an opponent’s “feelings” (or accusing them of not having any) merely reveals that politicians don’t have facts, logic or reason on their side. By redefining what it means to be compassionate by their own terms, you suddenly become the bad guy. And who wants to be the bad guy, right?

Deep down in our hearts we know that it is better for someone to be employed than to hand them food and subsidized housing. Deep down inside we know that it is better for neighbors to help each other through hard times instead of turning to government. Deep down inside we know it is better to have the strings that tie us emotionally to each other than strings tied to an unfeeling government. We know that the former builds independence, strength, character, and deepens relationships, while the latter merely supports the power machine that cares only about its own survival. Think about it. When was the last time you offered to give back to government because of what they gave to you (& took from someone else)? Would you feel any differently if it was your neighbor who personally did the giving instead?

This is why when politicians or government employees appeal to our “compassion”, I just cringe, as I see the appeal for what it really is: emotional manipulation to get me to do what they want. If they truly had compassion, they would set Americans loose to do what they do best: freely choose to sacrifice for one another, to build up one another, to encourage one another, to challenge one another. And we would do it all without their help and definitely without their commands. This is who we are, folks. We do the defining of our greatest asset – compassion – ourselves. We don’t want sugar-daddy-wanna-be bureaucrats or puffed up elected political aristocrats to do it for us.  It is a far more compassionate thing to see within each other the seed for independent greatness, limited only by how we see ourselves. Are we now really in a place where government is to have the sole measuring stick of who or what we shall become? Folks, it is not compassionate to expect only small things from men, or to deem the mediocre acceptable, or to encourage the continued clamor for “free” table scraps, when we are capable of so much more. It is time we stop allowing the finite mind of government define who we are, and instead remember the Infinite Mind who created us in His image and for a purpose. How much longer shall we continue to let the “compassion” of government put people in such a deep place of dependency that they can no longer see or hope to achieve that purpose? That isn’t true compassion at all. It’s cruelty.

“Although the big word on the left is ‘compassion,’ the big agenda on the left is dependency.” ~ Thomas Sowell (b. 1930) American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, author & current Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University

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