Passion Without Compassion is Oppression

I’m a passionate person. I have Irish ancestry and the Irish are known for both their friendliness and their glorious tempers. I come from passionate people. I love my friends and family and will defend them. I love my religion and will defend it. I’m pretty fond of my country and will defend that too. Lots of people are passionate about these same things—friends, family, religion and country. But these days, many are displaying a whole lot of passion without the compassion needed to actually bring about the change they want.

Man helping another man walk with cast and crutch
Dead bodies hanging from a metal structure
The dead bodies of Benito Mussolini and other Fascists on 29 April, 1945, hung after their execution in the same way citizens had been hung one year prior for resistance activity. 

Okay, so let’s take an example. You think that all people should have equal rights. I love it. So do I! But you think that someone over there has a different idea. Instead of going on over and finding out what their idea actually is and then maybe having a discussion about it so as to arrive at some sort of agreement, you grab a sign and bash him over the head with it. Not very compassionate. However, this is what has become popular. Shout them down! Shut them up! Or even crazier: shoot them! Kill them! After all, they’re not like us!

I beg to differ. They are just like you. They have dreams, goals, friends, families, dogs, cats, houses, cars… They just have a different idea.

Here’s another example. Let’s say you’re an atheist. You believe that belief in God is something you just can’t get behind. You express this point of view. Someone who is passionate about her faith then rails at you and tries to belittle your belief (or non-belief as it were). This passion without compassion has just oppressed you to some degree. And this person’s behavior probably violates the very tenets of her faith. Jesus was all about love and compassion. He expressed the point of view that a neighbor is one who shows mercy to others.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a master at passion with compassion and he changed an entire country.
Statue of Jesus in front of a brick building
A statue of Jesus at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Junee, New South Wales, Australia.

Okay, if the founder of Christianity speaks of compassion, mercy and love, why have so many bad things happened in the name of Christianity? Well, because there were Christians who had passion but not compassion. They looked at others as the enemy, rather than as their neighbors. And while I used Christianity as an example, there are examples in every religion and every country you can name. But here’s the real question: if you want the best for your family and friends, why not include your neighbors in it? They are, after all, part of the same human race.

The call for compassion has been put forth in many, many ways so many times. Here are two of my favorites:

“We can at least understand the one fact that greatness does not stem from savage wars or being known. It stems from being true to one’s own decency, from going on helping others whatever they do or think or say and despite all savage acts against one, to persevere without changing one’s basic attitude toward Man.”
L. Ron Hubbard
“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, ‘Love your enemies.’ It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load.”Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. marches on Washington
Martin Luther King Jr. and others in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a master at passion with compassion and he changed an entire country. People who had never inspected their beliefs about race suddenly started to look and think and change. If he had shouted at them and told them what worthless human beings they were, they probably wouldn’t have listened. But he treated them like friends—and friends listen. Look at pictures of the marches he led. He reached across racial divides and religious ones.

If you want to change the world, you would be wise to take his lead. If you make an enemy of those whose ideas are not the same as yours, they will do everything they can to stop you. I can guarantee this won’t help your cause, whatever it may be. If you treat them like a friend, they might just listen.

So how about we endeavor to change the world using passion with compassion? It is a deadly combination. It is what religions and great leaders have been saying for thousands of years.

Don’t you think it’s time we listened?

Deanne Macdonald
Business consultant and student of life.