Compassion: Fat Babies, Homeless Youth

My response to the post titled Buddhist Compassion & Cheetos at The New Heretics blog

Some think the compassion is the hard part, but the wisdom is the real tricky part.  I would argue that, even though many people belittle compassion, wisdom is impossible without compassion.  In order to know what is genuinely good for another, you have to deeply understand that person and their situation.  Even then, nothing is ever clear or certain.

This is where compassion often fails.  We tend to do what we think will be best which may or may not be true.  Your parents cut you off and it turned out well, but many other parents have done the same thing and it didn’t turn out so well.  Sometimes very bad things happen to people who become homeless.  Maybe your parents understood you well enough that they knew you could pull it together, but then again maybe luck played a large role. 

In hindsight, it of course seems like it was a great decision.  It was a calculated risk that paid off.  Leaving the safety of the known is dangerous, but going off the beaten path can have it’s own benefits as your life demonstrates.

However, none of us absolutely knows the way for there is no single way.  We may know the general direction and have a good map, but it’s easy to get lost in the woods and never find your way out again.

I would say not giving a fat kid a cheetos is an entirely different issue than letting a family member become homeless.  In the former, the child’s health is potentially threatened by giving into his demands.  In the latter, the child’s life is potentially threatened by not offering help.