Idiot Compassion

The term "bleeding-heart liberal" has been bandied about for years, in an effort to illustrate the faux or at least hyperbolic sense of compassion attributed to those on the left.  The lefties in America and Europe would like to be known as those who care, unless you happen to be a Bible-following Christian, a conservative or a fetus.

The information age has facilitated the dissemination of all things cultural, spiritual and intellectual.  One of the most important developments in the West has been the study and practice of Eastern religions and "ways."  Zen Buddhism, for instance, is thought of by those who practice it, as a way rather than a religion.  These religions and ways, particularly Buddhism, are thought of as the fonts of compassion.   Buddhists are thought to be unwilling to harm even a mosquito.  Hence the occasional story about a temple over-run with rats or monkeys because the attendant monks are unwilling to harm these creatures.  They believe that the rodents or simians have as much right to their sacred spaces as any other being.

The most intriguing and brilliant analyst of the world history of spiritual practice and the melding of East and West today is undoubtedly Ken Wilber.  Wilber`s insight into Buddhism in general and compassion in particular is unmatched in the West.  ( Read A Brief History of Everything, for instance.) In One Taste, Wilber responds to a student's question about compassion with an illuminating view: 
"[Most] confusion... in spiritual circles ....comes from confusing compassion with idiot compassion." 
This term was first used by Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan Rinpoche who helped bring Buddhism to the West in the 70`s.  Wilber continues:
"Idiot compassion" thinks it is being kind, but it's really being cruel.  If you have an alcoholic friend and you know that one more drink might kill him, and yet he begs you for a drink, does real compassion say that you should give it to him?  After all, to be kind you should give him what he wants, right?  Giving him the drink would therefore show compassion, yes?  No. Absolutely not.

"Real compassion includes wisdom and so it makes judgments of care and concern; it says some things are good, and some things are bad, and I will choose to act only on those things that are informed by wisdom and care."
Of course, here Wilber illuminates the missing ingredient in liberal "compassion."  The world, viewed through the liberal's gray colored, politically-correct glasses, makes no discerning judgments, or at least incorrect ones.  Hence, we get addle-brained protesters picketing to save the lives of serial killers on death row or human shields willing to give up their lives to protect suicide bomber cults and Islamic terrorists.   Since all killing is bad, it must be bad to kill Islamic terrorists or convicted murderers.  This idiot view, foregoes the greater good and lapses into solipsism.

The biographies of the Buddha reveal that in one of his early incarnations, he met a murderer of 1000's of men.  Acting correctly and with compassion for all sentient beings, the Buddha's incarnation killed the murderer to prevent additional suffering.  That  is true compassion!

The "compassionate" left would rather have us believe that the detainees at Guantanamo, the murderers and rapists in our prisons, the violent Palestinians and other Islamo-fascists are the rightful and primary objects of our care and concern.  
  • Idiot compassion invents Miranda rights to protect criminals from prosecution rather than allowing police powers to protect innocent citizens. 
  • Idiot compassion is so concerned with the rights of terrorists that it sabotages legitimate Patriot Act procedures designed to protect Americans from murderous organizations. 
  • Idiot compassion is so fearful that one innocent man might be imprisoned that it helps enact laws that insure freedom to thousands of certainly guilty ones, by disallowing evidence obtained against them. 
  • Idiot compassion is so deeply concerned with the feelings and freedom of young women, that it goes to great lengths to insure that these young women are allowed to destroy their unborn children, rather than endure the hardship of responsibility for their sexual conduct.
It's time we revealed this sham pretension of compassion for what it is:  a reckless disregard for reason and judgment, disguised in the touchy-feely cover of political correctness.  When you spot liberals pretending compassion under the guise of idiot compassion, out them! 

True compassion offers help even for the idiots!

Ralph Alter is a real estate broker and student of Buddhism from Carmel, Indiana.
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