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Action vs. Compassion: Standing Up for Kindness in a Terrifying World

There is no doubt about it, the world is spiraling in a frightening and dangerous place, the like of which I haven’t seen in my lifetime. With the threat of nuclear war being bounced back and forth between world leaders and hate groups like the KKK and the Nazi’s openly marching or planning to march in cities across the US, it’s like our collective “fight or flight” instinct is on hyper-drive. Stay and fight or run to a safe space and wait it out?

I don’t think I am the only person having trouble sleeping through the night.

As for animals, where do they stand in this crazily apocalyptic world we’ve created? Are they just unwilling collateral damage in our emboldened hate culture?

Every day on social media, graphic images are shared of elephants and other animals in grotesque, cruel, inhumane situations, often with an ostensibly good intent to shock, provoke, or engage. On me, however, it has the opposite reaction. I turn away. As a compassionate person, I can’t even look at images like that. They make me want to crawl under the covers and never come out again.

What I do find fascinating are the comments. “I hope the person that did that is murdered” “People suck!” “I hate humans” are the most common. Responding to hate with hate is a very natural instinct. But if we are striving to live a life based on kindness, where is the line in the sand? When do we stop seeking to understand the hatred and share compassion for the person spewing it, and when do we stand up and stay “STOP”?

To my mind it’s perfectly OK to do both, simultaneously, all of the time. Not only that, but we have a moral obligation to do so.

Hate groups must be rigorously shut down. Anyone who advocates the killing, or physical, mental abuse of other people must have their actions stopped. Likewise people who torture animals must be stopped. Dog fighting rings, elephant riding, circuses, canned trophy hunting, factory farming, puppy mills, these things are evil. There is a line in the sand and this is it. If you support these things, we all need to come together to stop you from acting on them. Period.

As for the people perpetrating the hate? I am no expert, but it seems to me that most violence and anger come from fear, fear of being inadequate, fear of being left behind, of not being loved, of feeling ashamed, of feeling weak. It doesn’t seem like a big stretch to me to make the assumption that most of the people who push so hard to promote an agenda of hatred are terrified inside. We have a responsibility to try and nip that fear in the bud, reach out to our fellow human beings, teach our children self love and compassion, love and nurture ourselves so that our “compassion” tanks are full and we can share that love with others.

If life on this planet is to continue, there is no other course of action.

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