I remember talking with someone and they mentioned how it’s pretty easy to have compassion for people you know and kinda dislike, but having compassion for someone that you truly despise, now that was challenging.
And I’ve thought about it especially after reading Leadership and Self Deception (which I was sure was titled Leadership and the Art of Self Deception). The book really helped me have compassion for former colleagues that I use to scorn. The way the book is written is really different than most books of the genre and I think that’s what made it go from some abstract ideas about compassion to really have me be introspective about my past behaviours and consequently theirs.
But there were (are) still folks I don’t think I have compassion for. If we’re supposed to have compassion for lettuce where should I draw the line? Is Donald Trump not worthy of my compassion?
I disagree, often quite strongly with his policies, his actions, his beliefs. But does that mean I shouldn’t have compassion for him? After thinking about it, there seems to be many things I should be compassionate about. There appear to be some struggles with his relationship with his wife. He is criticized (rightly or wrongly) on a daily basis by many people on TV, in magazines, online. The way he talks about things often feels like he’s insecure and afraid. He even has polls daily that tell him how many people disapprove of him. None of that can be fun.
That’s without even examining his past and what made him. If we take the lettuce metaphor. It’s easy for me to say, well that means I should be kind to someone who might be addicted to drugs and commits a crime, or who have suffered trauma and lashes out. But is that just because I know (or can imagine) their past? How can I truly judge Trump without being omnipresent?
I guess this brings me to what I struggle with the “compassion for lettuce” concept. If I should be compassionate for everyone, even someone like Donald Trump, then does that mean not holding people to account? If it’s not the lettuce’s fault that it got no sun, too much water, bad soil, is anyone responsible for any of their actions?
I “know” what the answer to this is. It’s that both things are not dependent on one another. That you can have compassion for someone while still holding them accountable. But I’m not sure I know how to do that yet…
EDIT: you might as well just read https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-pacific-heart/201702/compassion-trump it’s a much better article than this one.