Should we love and have compassion for everyone? Should we love even terrible people who do terrible things? How do we deal with them? What about someone like Hitler? These are questions and thoughts that have really troubled me at times. I’ve been looking for the answer for sometime until I finally came upon a video of the Dalai Lama discussing it. Suddenly, it all clicked into place.
Why should we have compassion for everyone?
It’s really important to have compassion for others. The golden rule may come to mind, that we ought to treat others as we want to be treated. We all make mistakes. All of us can feel, experience, and have emotions. Pain. Suffering. Hopelessness. These are all common emotions felt by people, and to an extent animals. As such, we ought to have compassion and try to help others whenever possible. If we were in their position, we’d appreciate the same.
All of the great religious teachings of the world try to examine how we ought to live. And all of them preach that we should love and have compassion for others. We should do good to our fellow human beings. Even without religion, many people still come to the same conclusion. We should care for other people.
Selflessness is selfishness. A great lesson I learned from the Dalai Lama a long time ago was that the most selfish things we can do is to be selfless. That’s because having compassion and helping others actually makes us feel better too.
How to have compassion for those really bad people:
I never had problems having compassion for most people. Even those who still did some pretty terrible things. I think that their environment has influenced them largely. Things never happen in a vacuum and we’ve been influenced by our environment a lot.
Now, what about those really bad people? Don’t they deserve the death penalty? Don’t they deserve pain and punishment?
This is where the recent video I watched comes in. The Dalai Lama is talking about people and their bad actions. He said we ought to separate the two. The people are different from their negative actions. We should have compassion still for the people, but not tolerate their actions. It is key to separate them so as not to hate the person him or herself.
Let’s take a recent example – the shootings in Connecticut. There’s a lot going on in the media about this right now. Undertandably there’s a lot of anger and upset over what happened and my heart goes out to those involved and influenced. Now, we should look at the person, Adam Lanza, the shooter, as different than his attrocious actions. We should have compassion for Adam Lanza, someone who’s mind is so problematic and terrible that it led him to those actions. He needs your compassion. Think about it. However, we should not tolerate his actions or those similar.
For example, I’ve made mistakes. I’ve done things I regret. And the key here, is regret. I, myself, am separate from my actions. That’s why I can feel regret over them. We are not one and the same.
So, how do you deal with these bad actions that people do? How do you make sure these actions don’t go on? You must deal with them, not in anger, but in compassion. If Adam Lanza survived, we should have a trial for him and convict him of a sentence out of compassion for him. A sentence that could help someone so obviously troubled. You don’t want to punish him by death or life in a terrible prison. That’s acting out of anger. We want to help him, and make sure he is changed or helped. If not, he might potentially repeat these kinds of crimes and we’re not acting compassionately to others. Thus, we need to act intelligently AND compassionately. You do not need to condone all actions, but we can still have compassion for all living beings.
Make sense? I know it’s a tough pill to swallow. But it’s the right pill. We ought to think in a way that is not out of anger, but out of compassion. Then we’d surely solve many more of the world’s problems.