18 September 2012 4 Comments
Not many would deny that compassion is a virtue. Some would even say it is the opposite of dogma. On a fundamental level, that is true. Yet it is possible for compassion to become dogmatic when it is defined too narrowly, and begins to take on a form of brutal piety.
I had this bizarre exchange with a friend recently. Here’s how it went. The details have been altered slightly but the form is essentially the same.
Friend: Hi, how’re you?
Me: Not too good. I’ve just had some bad news… [I was about to explain that someone I was close to had died, so I was feeling particularly fragile.]
Friend: Hey, you know, my bunions are giving me trouble again. I could barely do my shopping at the supermarket. I was hobbling as I pushed the cart. Even the old ladies were giving me funny looks. [The said bunions had been the topic of many a dreary conversation for several months.]
Me: I’m sorry, but I can’t really talk about your feet today.
Friend (defensive and irate): Don’t you care about my health!? Where’s your compassion?