I’m something of a stickler for words, but what can I say, when you teach foreign languages for two decades a fetish for ‘le mot juste’ just comes with the territory.
Furthermore, when you love being a student as much as I do, it’s expensive to disagree with your teachers. On the other hand, it’s far more expensive to not disagree when I think a disagreement is in order.
Which brings me back to a recent post where I disagree with my current favorite teacher, James True. I don’t think I was persuasive enough in my argument, because he tried to shame me with group-think in front of the whole class (by class I mean his YouTube audience). It didn’t work though, because my love of words is far stronger than my capacity for shame, or group-think.
I lie awake at night thinking about such things. In the wee hours, that is usually between 2 and 3 am, I often get inspiration in the form of annoying insomnia. It’s a fairly small price to pay for what occasionally turns out to be a spectacular insight.
So, I’m trying again, Professor True, to convince you to shift your expression ‘Compassion is not consent’ because I think it’s not accurate. Embedded in the word compassion is consent. Its etymology is ancient, unlike more modern words like empathy. But, I already mentioned that in my first failed attempt to persuade.
And, I don’t want to just negate the expression, because I think I understand what is meant and the sentiment behind it. Instead, I’d like to offer what I think is a more precise phrase in order to refine it.
Consider instead, if you please: “Compassion minus consent.”
Understanding is based in intellect. Empathy/sympathy is emotionally-centered. But compassion comes from the core. I think so far the good professor would agree, because he talks often about the importance of being seated in one’s pelvis, though he uses more colorful expressions for that fact.
I believe these subtle differences in expression have considerable impact and can be used by nefarious powers against the greatest intentions and wills of man. A couple of examples:
“We are all One” or “We are all in this together” is a kind of bastardization of an absolute truth: Everything is connected. We live in a holistic system. I believe this means that in the mind of man is buried the ancestral wisdom of all ages. I believe this is true because I’ve experienced it personally. Someday I’ll have the skill to express it. But I don’t yet.
I believe this is also what NDE (near death experience) is about. There is an ‘extended consciousness’ realm and I do believe some folks are able to move between these realms (sometimes against their will or comprehension). We used to call it shamanism and try to cultivate it, now we call it schizophrenia and try to control it. Professor True has several excellent posts on this topic.
Another example: “All we need is love” or the myriad variations that have bombarded us for several generations through art, film, books, music. I’ve already said my piece on this a couple of times, so I won’t rehash it again.
I’m all for love and compassion. I just think to saturate the culture with it or suggest it’s the magic bullet to end our social woes is actually undermining it. True love and compassion should be earned and dished out sparingly. Empathy, sympathy, understanding should be extended as far and wide as humanly possible. Kindness, care and concern should be liberally applied, perhaps even where it’s not deserved.
And compassion, minus consent, is something awesome I could aspire to—I know it won’t be easy—but it seems to me a worthy goal of an enlightened social order.
In any case, these men are totally crushing in this best Apocalypse ever, and are so much more entertaining than this post. Do something both fun and healthy for yourself on Father’s Day and check them out!