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What Is Real Compassion?

Updated on March 4, 2020
jackclee lm profile image

Before retiring, Jack worked at IBM for over 28 years. His articles have over 120,000 views.


Compassion is a human quality. We feel this for others who are less fortunate. We also feel this when we are helping others struggling with life challenges. Individual acts of compassion is welcomed. The Bible speaks of this often like the parable of the Good Samaritan. Compassion doled out by a state or a government is quite different. Here lies the difference. Individual acts of compassion is a voluntary response. Compassion by the state is coerced. It is a forced collectivism by taxing the population and redistributing the wealth.

- March 2020


Conservatives are often accused of being selfish. We stress the individual rather than the group or community. We value self reliance and reward individual initiatives. When dealing with many social issues, especially economic ones, conservatives would rather have the private sector or individuals provide the assistance instead of a government sanctioned program.

This is a philosophical difference. Which is a better way? What is most efficient? Which leads to better results?

Let's take hunger in America as an example. We know there are a percent of our population that cannot generate enough earnings to pay for the basics of food, shelter and energy. They are relying on SNAP to feed themselves and their family. This is a government program to help the poor to make sure they don't starve or their family don't starve. On the face of it, it seems like a reasonable thing to do. We are a civilized society. We don't want to see people starving or begging on the streets. We certainly don't want people, especially kids, who live in dysfunctional homes to not have sufficient food.

Alternatively, we always had the church with its many charitable functions. Food pantries and soup lines. We also have private funded charities like Feeding America and Food for the Poor, which are non-profit organizations that take in private donations and distribute food to the needy.

Which is a better solution? In reality, we have both. Even given the extensive program of SNAP, there are still vast number of people who needs help. Why is that? It defies logic that a program designed to feed the poor ends up short. What is the problem here?

Just go by the numbers. We have a population of 330 million. There are 46 million on SNAP. The poverty level is around 12%-14%. 46/330 = 14%. It would seem everyone who is below the poverty level is covered.

There Are A Few Possible Conclusions...

First, Americans are so poor and many are starving that even with The SNAP program, we still need private charities to fill the gap, to the tune of 3 billion dollars or more.

Second, the current SNAP program is inefficient and does not fulfill their mandate.

Third, the people receiving SNAP are not using it to feed themselves and their kids. They are relying on private charities for food and the funds provided through SNAP are being redirected for other things.

Forth, the charities are mis-managed and most of the funds are not going to feed the people they claim to help.

Fifth, a combination of all of the above.

Who is more compassionate?

A. The politicians that passed the SNAP program

B. The administrators of SNAP

C. The taxpayers who foot the bill

D. The private non-profit charities

E. The donors to these private charities

F. The guy asking the question of where did the money goes...

Another Issue - Illegal Immigration

Another huge debate in our country right now is the impact of illegal immigrants. There are two main camps. The progressive Democrats believe we should allow all who wants to come here and treat them equally like any immigrants. They claim no person is "illegal". Wow, that sounds so smart and compassionate!

The other camp, mainly the Republican conservatives, who believes in the rule of law and wants to control our borders and stop the illegal immigrants from overrun our borders. They are critical of the sanctuary city policies of many large US cities which puts the rights of illegal felons ahead of our own citizens.

Where does compassion come in?

On the surface, it seems that letting these people come here is the more compassionate policy. We are giving these hard working people a chance at the American dream. They are also doing the work Americans don't want. They are not a burden on our society but actually contribute to our well being. We need them to create a more diverse population. It is our motto, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

On the other hand, this act of immigration is illegal. They are breaking our laws coming here without going through the process set up by the INS. They may carry diseases. They may be conducting illegal drug shipment. They are also part of the human trafficking that goes on. Many are being exploited and some raped in the migration process. Once here, they are exploited again with low wages, below the minimum set by our government. They are living as second class people afraid of being caught and deported by ICE. They may participate in illegal activities. They may commit crimes against our citizens, such as drunk driving without license and may commit murder or manslaughter...

Who is more compassionate?

Another Issue is Public Education

We are suppose to teach our young. They are our future. We have public schools so that the responsibility is shared among all.

In many of our inner cities, public education have failed. For various reasons, these schools are not teaching. The kids are graduating without the basic knowledge of read and write.

Various proposals have been made to help improve the situation. It has been met with strong resistance from the Teacher's union.

Any proposal for accountability is rejected. The same goes with vouchers, and Charter schools.

Compassion should go to those kids. Why would we not want to try any and all things to improve our schools?


Compassion is in the eye of the beholder. As a Christian, we are suppose to exhibit compassion for our neighbors. We are to love thy neighbor as our selves. We are to care for the sick, visit the hospitals, and prisons...

These are all individual acts of charity and compassion. The Bible does not say we should pay extra taxes so that the government can take care all of those in need. It is just the opposite. Government will do what it does but as people of God, we should still do what God commanded us.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Jack Lee


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