By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Compassion Trumps All

self-esteem, groups and hate
self-esteem, groups and hate (Photo credit: Will Lion)
We look at people and can often say: he gets his self-worth from his  money or his career or IQ or even from a real or mythic ethnic identity or family background, or various combinations of these and many other things, including outward religious practices and labels that remain superficial. We say that because we do the same or are in the process, especially in youth, of finding that "thing" which we call identity which will give us our self-worth. Often, in human history, that search for identity has taken a dark turn and has led to the denigration of those on the outside.

Fortunately, with time and maturation, wise people realize that none of those "things" in fact satisfies. Rather, wisdom teaches that all of those "things" are, as said long ago, by a Hebrew sage: vanity of vanities, wispy vapors and fogs that do not last.

What then does "make" us? My own unoriginal but life-earned insight is this: compassion for others makes us. Our identity lies in giving ourselves to nourish others so we can see them flourish. If that is the law of  life, then we foolishly waste our lives talking a lot of nonsense about what school I attended or my ancestry or my portfolio. In many ways, the conventional pillars of our self are cheap narcotics that keep distancing ourselves from what is really true about us. But we keep it up because, in the absence of anything else, the false crutches salve the pain of insecurity as we lurch from year to year. Yet, the solution to this crippling way of life is to forget about your own insecurity and to address the needs and insecurities of others!

Many religions and philosophies have told us the same thing: compassion is your passion. Yet, only one religion actually has the deity himself execute that mission by actually being "crazy" enough to become one of us vulnerable humans. I think you know of what I speak. Nothing more need be said.

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