Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. On Compassion

 

My husband was watching some commentary on loan forgiveness. The talking heads kept reiterating that this wasn’t “compassionate” because it isn’t “fair” to the people who paid off their loans.

Regardless of your feelings regarding that particular policy, I want to dispel this ridiculous idea that Compassion = Fair.

Fairness doesn’t exist in this world. If everyone got what was fair, we would all be dead. (Because we are all sinners and the wages of sin is death). I get a lot of people around here aren’t Christians, so don’t care much for that phrasing, so let me put it another way. If the world were fair, Bernie would be living in Venezuela waiting in a bread line. If life were fair, 53 percent of the homicides in Chicago wouldn’t be unsolved. If life were fair, we wouldn’t have BOGO deals, freebies at job fairs, or any number of ridiculous and mundane bonuses in life.

And yet, we should show compassion to others. Please take note: a moral people is a compassionate people. If compassion equaled fairness and fairness doesn’t exist, then compassion wouldn’t exist, either. Therefore, compassion does not mean fairness.

Compassion is about grace. A silly little word that means getting what you do not deserve (in a positive way). So, if you want to be compassionate, you are absolutely talking about the exact opposite of fairness. And yes, if you are giving grace to someone, it might not be fair to someone who doesn’t need that grace – but life isn’t fair!

Again, this post isn’t about what brought this to my attention, it is about compassion, so don’t let what you think my position on loan forgiveness is colored by what follows. This isn’t about loan forgiveness. Here’s the question: should we be compassionate even when it means making things unfair? (If your answer is no, please see the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 and refer yourself to the oldest son.)

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There are 42 comments.

  1. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Well said, and evergreen in relevance. Thanks for the reminder.

    • #1
    • January 24, 2020, at 10:29 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  2. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    Fair does not mean equal outcomes to people on the right. Instead, “fair” means an equal opportunity. That said, changing the rules after the fact on school payments is not fair. It might be fair, if the money did not come from the people that already paid their tuition. But, there is no “free” when it comes to government mandates. 

    Here’s the applicable Bible passage:

    1 For the kingdom of heaven of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 And after agreeing with the workers for the standard wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 When it was about nine o’clock in the morning, he went out again and saw others standing around in the market place without work. 4 And he said to them, “You go into the vineyard too and I will give you whatever is right.” 5 So they went. When he went out again about noon and three o’clock that afternoon, he did the same thing. 6 And about five o’clock that afternoon he went out and found others standing around, and he said to them, “Why are you standing here all day without work?” 7 They said to him, “Because no one has hired us.” He said to them, “You go and work in the vineyard too.”

    8 When it was evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, “Call the workers and give the pay starting with the last hired until the first.” 9 When those hired about five o’clock came, each received a full day’s pay. 10 And when those hired first came, they though they would receive more. But each one also received the standard wage. 11 When they received it, they began to complain against the landowner, 12 saying, “These last fellows worked one hour, and you have made them equal to us who bore the hardship and burning heat of the day.

    13 And the landowner replied to one of them, “Friend, I am not treating you unfairly. Didn’t you agree with me to work for the standard wage? 14 Take what is yours and go. I want to give this last man the same as I gave to you. 15 Am I not permitted to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous? 16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

    • #2
    • January 24, 2020, at 10:43 AM PST
    • Like
  3. Stina Member
    Stina

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):
    That said, changing the rules after the fact on school payments is not fair. It might be fair, if the money did not come from the people that already paid their tuition. But, there is no “free” when it comes to government mandates. 

    /facepalm/

    • #3
    • January 24, 2020, at 10:44 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  4. Arahant Member

    Stina: If everyone got what was fair, we would all be dead.

    SMoD 2020!

    • #4
    • January 24, 2020, at 10:54 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  5. Arahant Member

    The root of compassion is “suffering with.”

    • #5
    • January 24, 2020, at 10:58 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  6. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Stina: Here’s the question: should we be compassionate even when it means making things unfair?

    Sure. But that’s not really the question posed by the student loan forgiveness discussion. Here’s the appropriate question: should we give charity to debtors using money involuntarily taken from third parties?

    Your question and all of the other points swirling around this topic serve to obscure the underlying question.

    • #6
    • January 24, 2020, at 11:08 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  7. Hoyacon Member

    But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

    Compassion may be unfair, but it need not be so. And when its application results in a true lack of fairness, it’s important to point that out.

    “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

    Let’s note that the older son does not have clean hands in the story to the extent he is petulant and refuses to participate in the celebration. He is, in short, greedy. However, to the extent that there is a “flip side” to the compassionate treatment of some, those burdened by “compassionate treatment” are often not blameworthy (i.e., they are not the same as the older son). Certain acts (even government programs) may well be justified through the lens of compassion. That’s all well and good. But I see no reason that we also can’t be compassionate about those disadvantaged by those acts who may be blameless for the consequences.

    • #7
    • January 24, 2020, at 11:10 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  8. Bob Thompson Member

    On the loan repayment issue, don’t we have a compassionate bankruptcy system in the United States, and wasn’t the particular type of loan in question here removed from that compassionate approach. Just put it back.

    • #8
    • January 24, 2020, at 11:36 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  9. Weeping Member

    Stina: Here’s the question: should we be compassionate even when it means making things unfair?

    I think it depends on the situation. Should we in general aim to be compassionate? Yes, I think we should. But how should we deal with the person who continually tries to take advantage of that compassion. Should we continue to extend it? I’m not so sure. If we warn someone that if they do ABC that XYZ will be the consequences they’ll have to deal with, should we show “compassion” and negate XYZ if we can should the person go ahead and do ABC? I’m not so sure. Is it more compassionate to continually rescue someone from their mistakes when letting them deal with consequences might prove more helpful to them instead? I’m not so sure. So as I said, I think it depends on the situation.

    • #9
    • January 24, 2020, at 11:55 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  10. Terry Mott Member

    I may have told this story here before, but if so, it was years ago

    At a New Years Eve party about 20 years ago, a conservative friend of mine (I’ll call him “Joe”) got into a debate with a liberal friend (who loved to get into political arguments, especially after a couple glasses of wine; I’ll call her “Sue”) about the far-east “sweat shops” that were then in the news. Some female celebrity had a clothing line and it had come out that the clothes were being made in so-called “sweat shops”, creating a mini-scandal resulting in the “sweat shops” being closed down.

    Joe’s argument was that shutting down the sweat shops wasn’t necessarily good for the people employed therein because the alternative wasn’t between earning $2.00 per day (or whatever it was) sewing garments vs. making a middle-class wage doing something else. Rather it was between making $2.00 per day vs. having a job worse than that — maybe picking rice for $1.00 per day or something — or perhaps having no job, at all.

    Sue wasn’t having any of it. She couldn’t logically rebut his argument, and so responded with, “It’s about compassion, Joe!” She thought this was a killer argument, though she couldn’t explain how it was compassionate to throw these workers out on the street.

    Ultimately, I believe Sue wanted to feel compassionate much more than she wanted to be compassionate.

    • #10
    • January 24, 2020, at 12:07 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  11. Weeping Member

    Terry Mott (View Comment):
    Joe’s argument was that shutting down the sweat shops wasn’t necessarily good for the people employed therein because the alternative wasn’t between earning $2.00 per day (or whatever it was) sewing garments or making a middle-class wage doing something else. Rather it was between making $2.00 per day or having a job worse than that — maybe picking rice for $1.00 per day or something — or perhaps having no job, at all.

    Exactly! So which is more compassionate? Providing jobs which are low-paying by the developed world’s standards but which allow families to eat? Or closing down the jobs, causing the families to starve? It’s very easy for someone who doesn’t live in the situation to say that the jobs should be shut down, but he/she won’t have to deal with the fall-out.

    • #11
    • January 24, 2020, at 12:34 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  12. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    On the loan repayment issue, don’t we have a compassionate bankruptcy system in the United States, and wasn’t the particular type of loan in question here removed from that compassionate approach. Just put it back.

    It was removed from that system because it was abused by the flower children of the 60’s. It became fashionable to run up the student loans to stay in college as long as possible, collecting Vietnam deferments, then “stick it to the man” after graduation. There’s no way to collateralize an education or otherwise deter bankruptcy when the debtor has nothing but a diploma to their name.

    The only mechanism that might have a chance would be to make the provider of the education liable for all or most of the loss in a bankruptcy. Of course, that would utterly devastate the colleges that have fattened themselves up on churning out worthless degrees in watered-down liberal arts and/or “studies” flavor of the month. So don’t expect politicians to promote that solution any time soon.

    In the meantime, don’t put it back.

    • #12
    • January 24, 2020, at 2:15 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  13. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    When it is paid for with other people’s money, it isn’t compassion. Period.

    • #13
    • January 24, 2020, at 2:17 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  14. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Justice is getting what we deserve.

    Mercy is getting what we don’t deserve.

    Grace is getting what we can’t deserve.

    • #14
    • January 24, 2020, at 3:04 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  15. Stina Member
    Stina

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    Stina: Here’s the question: should we be compassionate even when it means making things unfair?

    Sure. But that’s not really the question posed by the student loan forgiveness discussion. Here’s the appropriate question: should we give charity to debtors using money involuntarily taken from third parties?

    Your question and all of the other points swirling around this topic serve to obscure the underlying question.

    Your question is worthy of its own post, since this post is not about specific forms of compassion but whether compassion is something we should strive for on some level, even if it makes things unfair.

    I don’t expect an unequivocal and full throated “YES.” Like all things, discernment is important. And yeah, it does depend on the situation. Like Terry’s example, is our idea of compassion truly compassionate? But ultimately, compassion does not mean fairness. The left gets this wrong, and judging by what I heard today, some on the right do as well.

    I once got into an argument with a mother whose son has severe peanut allergies. I’ve also been on Bryan Stephens’ bad side for repeating it and I know Arahant doesn’t appreciate the sentiment. I am rather against parents with children with poor health forcing others to cater to their health. Note the word force. It should be an act of compassion for us to make room for sick kids. But our compassion isn’t something others are entitled to – and she believed she was entitled to others’ compassion. The Left also thinks they are entitled to others’ compassion. And they will attempt to take it from you by force.

    • #15
    • January 24, 2020, at 5:32 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  16. Arahant Member

    Stina (View Comment):
    …and I know Arahant doesn’t appreciate the sentiment. I am rather against parents with children with poor health forcing others to cater to their health.

    Wrong. I agree with you.

    • #16
    • January 24, 2020, at 6:24 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  17. Manny Member

    Wonderful. You explained it well. 

    However, I still don’t support excusing loans. Compassionate it may be but it would undermine the the financial system and screw it up for future people seeking college loans. Maybe all loans. Compassionate to some, detrimental to others. 

    • #17
    • January 24, 2020, at 6:30 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  18. Arahant Member

    Manny (View Comment):

    Wonderful. You explained it well.

    However, I still don’t support excusing loans. Compassionate it may be but it would undermine the the financial system and screw it up for future people seeking college loans. Maybe all loans. Compassionate to some, detrimental to others.

    Right. Individual compassion would be better, like George Soros could spend his money to pay those loans off.

    • #18
    • January 24, 2020, at 6:54 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  19. Stina Member
    Stina

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):
    …and I know Arahant doesn’t appreciate the sentiment. I am rather against parents with children with poor health forcing others to cater to their health.

    Wrong. I agree with you.

    Awesome :)

    • #19
    • January 24, 2020, at 7:10 PM PST
    • Like
  20. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):
    “fair” means an equal opportunity.

    Nonsense. There is no universally agreed-upon concept called “fair” even among the Right. Fair is situation and ideological, thus rendering it empty. The only useful application of the word fair is in the sentence, “Life is not fair.” The reason it works there is that everyone perceives unfairness directed at them by others who viewed it as the opposite. 

    • #20
    • January 25, 2020, at 11:41 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  21. Rightfromthestart Coolidge

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

    Compassion may be unfair, but it need not be so. And when its application results in a true lack of fairness, it’s important to point that out.

    “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

    Let’s note that the older son does not have clean hands in the story to the extent he is petulant and refuses to participate in the celebration. He is, in short, greedy. However, to the extent that there is a “flip side” to the compassionate treatment of some, those burdened by “compassionate treatment” are often not blameworthy (i.e., they are not the same as the older son). Certain acts (even government programs) may well be justified through the lens of compassion. That’s all well and good. But I see no reason that we also can’t also be compassionate about those disadvantaged by those acts who may be blameless for the consequences.

    Hopefully the older son still inherited while the younger reformed his life but did not actually profit from his profligacy . 

    • #21
    • January 25, 2020, at 11:59 AM PST
    • Like
  22. The Dowager Jojo Member

    Student loan forgiveness is only compassionate in a selfishly arrogant short sighted way, same as all the gender erasure initiatives of late. It destroys cultural coherence and trust. Anybody who paid for college would understand they had been played for suckers.

    To make fools out of the people who worked and saved and sacrificed to pay for their children’s education would end what is left of integrity in the country. It would not be compassionate, it would be evil.

    Aaaaaand, I hear it’s a very popular idea.

    • #22
    • January 25, 2020, at 12:21 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  23. Stina Member
    Stina

    Rightfromthestart (View Comment):
    Hopefully the older son still inherited while the younger reformed his life but did not actually profit from his profligacy .

    He used his inheritance in the profligacy… So I don’t think he got a second inheritance. However, by living in his father’s house and being graced with the very rich celebration, it could be argued the father was using his older son’s inheritance in doing so. So the older son was actually upset in seeing what could be his inheritance being used on his younger brother who had already been given his share of the inheritance.

    • #23
    • January 25, 2020, at 12:22 PM PST
    • Like
  24. Stina Member
    Stina

    The Dowager Jojo (View Comment):

    Student loan forgiveness is only compassionate in a selfishly arrogant short sighted way, same as all the gender erasure initiatives of late. It destroys cultural coherence and trust. Anybody who paid for college would understand they had been played for suckers.

    To make fools out of the people who worked and saved and sacrificed to pay for their children’s education would end what is left of integrity in the country. It would not be compassionate, it would be evil.

    Aaaaaand, I hear it’s a very popular idea.

    Again, not about student loan forgiveness. Its about compassion vs fairness. I’m not engaging on that debate stage, so please leave off it.

    • #24
    • January 25, 2020, at 12:24 PM PST
    • 1 like
  25. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    The argument against your edifying and totally wonderful writing is that those who consider themselves “financial experts” and who are inside the bigger financial and political con games no longer have any compassion. They consider compassion to be a dozen turkeys given out at Thanksgiving and Christmas to be all the compassion that is needed, even as they pilfer the pension funds of the companies that they have brought to bankruptcy, while awaiting their Golden Parachutes on the way out of those companies.

    So as far as an individual getting loan forgiveness, I think about it from a political sense of the world and a large overview of what is going on:

    We “Forgave” the people who brought us the Economic Collapse of 2008. We allowed Obama to appoint Tim Geithner, with whom he had a friendship going back to boyhood, as the Secretary of the Treasury. This man should have been inside an orange jump suit for the way he racketeered positions for his friends on Wall Street, with only Lehman Bros being designated as going down.

    Some 23 to 32 trillions of dollars from Main Street went into bailing out the Too Big To Fail crowd.

    There was no need to do this. The first trillion maybe, as Steve Bannon points out in a brilliant recent interview conducted by Frontline on youtube.

    But the rest was a crime. You do not loan the entire segment of the economy that has managed to do well on its own in order to prop up criminals whose only saving grace is that they are well connected to the Establishment politicians.

    The effects of this financial crime and financial sin are still with us. Many people, including those who were about to retire, lost their pensions.

    Currently the Bigger Banks are not loaning monies to one another, and the smaller banks, which are now very few in number, are struggling to exist.

    One of my biggest fears is that if Trump, who understands the above, survives the impeachment efforts, the Dems and their cohorts in the Republican Party will bring the economy down. Before Obama left office, Congress established new laws ensuring that when the economy is brought down once again, again the tax payers will pay Bail Outs.

    If we can be “overly compassionate” to the organized monsters that run our economy repeatedly into the ground, we certainly should be considering forgiveness to those who have outstanding personal loans.

    • #25
    • January 25, 2020, at 12:46 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  26. Lilly B Coolidge

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):
    …and I know Arahant doesn’t appreciate the sentiment. I am rather against parents with children with poor health forcing others to cater to their health.

    Wrong. I agree with you.

    @arahant I read this and thought, as my middle-schooler would say, “plot twist!”

    • #26
    • January 25, 2020, at 1:00 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  27. Arahant Member

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):
    …and I know Arahant doesn’t appreciate the sentiment. I am rather against parents with children with poor health forcing others to cater to their health.

    Wrong. I agree with you.

    Arahant I read this and thought, as my middle-schooler would say, “plot twist!”

    I may have issues in what I can eat, but that doesn’t mean I think anyone should have to cater to me. Now, lying about what’s in something, I would object to. “Oh, here, Jimmy, eat this. There are no peanuts in here…” But that’s not what we’re talking about. My food issues are my problems, and I won’t put unreasonable demands on people. Neither should the mother of a child demand that no peanuts or peanut butter even be brought into a school building. At that point, she should be homeschooling to keep the child safe.

    • #27
    • January 25, 2020, at 1:25 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  28. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):
    …and I know Arahant doesn’t appreciate the sentiment. I am rather against parents with children with poor health forcing others to cater to their health.

    Wrong. I agree with you.

    Arahant I read this and thought, as my middle-schooler would say, “plot twist!”

    I may have issues in what I can eat, but that doesn’t mean I think anyone should have to cater to me. Now, lying about what’s in something, I would object to. “Oh, here, Jimmy, eat this. There are no peanuts in here…” But that’s not what we’re talking about. My food issues are my problems, and I won’t put unreasonable demands on people. Neither should the mother of a child demand that no peanuts or peanut butter even be brought into a school building. At that point, she should be homeschooling to keep the child safe.

    Precisely. If an allergy is that severe, merely venturing out in public puts the child in mortal danger.

    That, or a parent is being delusional.

    • #28
    • January 25, 2020, at 2:00 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  29. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Stina: Again, this post isn’t about what brought this to my attention, it is about compassion, so don’t let what you think my position on loan forgiveness is colored by what follows. This isn’t about loan forgiveness. Here’s the question: should we be compassionate even when it means making things unfair? (If your answer is no, please see the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 and refer yourself to the oldest son.)

    I’ll see your Luke 15 and raise you a Matthew 22:21 (“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s . . .”). I’ll raise you a Matthew 10:16, too (“be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves”).

    I think that it is a mistake to equate politics with the grace and mercy of God. I think that an overemphasis on compassion leads to the errors of the Social Gospel — which, incidentally, generally led to a loss of faith altogether.

    • #29
    • January 25, 2020, at 2:04 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  30. Lilly B Coolidge

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):
    …and I know Arahant doesn’t appreciate the sentiment. I am rather against parents with children with poor health forcing others to cater to their health.

    Wrong. I agree with you.

    Arahant I read this and thought, as my middle-schooler would say, “plot twist!”

    I may have issues in what I can eat, but that doesn’t mean I think anyone should have to cater to me. Now, lying about what’s in something, I would object to. “Oh, here, Jimmy, eat this. There are no peanuts in here…” But that’s not what we’re talking about. My food issues are my problems, and I won’t put unreasonable demands on people. Neither should the mother of a child demand that no peanuts or peanut butter even be brought into a school building. At that point, she should be homeschooling to keep the child safe.

    In “The Coddling of the American Mind,” the authors suggest that schools may be creating more peanut allergies by banning them. One of my kids has a life-threatening allergy to tree nuts, but can eat peanut butter. She has always been able to take PB sandwiches to lunch, but her former elementary school has become increasingly restrictive. With so many students having nut allergies now, none of the kids are allowed to bring any food with nuts to school. I know how scary nut allergies are, but I wonder whether eliminating all exposure is the answer. 

    At one of my elementary schools, we would go home for lunch. That would solve the problem, but I can’t imagine it happening today. The inequality debates would be off the charts!

    • #30
    • January 25, 2020, at 2:08 PM PST
    • 6 likes