It’s 2016: each month we are losing more people in Chicago than those recently murdered in Brussels. Intimate bios personalize ISIS victims while Chicago’s dead are dehumanized within a cloud of statistics. The ISIS gang blankets the media but we don’t often hear about Chicago’s Latin Kings. If we did we’d begin to see significant parallels in radicalization paths and underlying causes.
No solutions, even substantial mitigations, are possible unless the deep societal, political, sociological, and psychological drivers are exposed. Yes, it’s maddeningly complicated, but we need to include all the underlying causes in the search effective change. It won’t help if we point to income inequality and a need for policing-reformation in Chicago without talking about the deeply entrenched American Racism and Greedism in which the Latin Kings exist. ISIS flourishes in a global mirror of these elements.
The world is not a fair place. The Rule of Law has become an illusion of Justice that serves the rich and powerful. We blind ourselves to the facts because we are afraid of the pain that the truth will bring. And, yes, the truth will hurt: twice. Once when we empathize with those who suffer, and once when we acknowledge our personal passive/aggressive contribution to the suffering. Such is empathy, the ability to feel the pain of others. But now enters Compassion.
Compassion allows us to take the energy of pain, anger, and guilt and turn these forces into ‘good works’. Individually the ‘work’ can be a simple as having civil conversation with someone who thinks differently. It can mean organizing a demonstration for Reform. It can mean just going to that demonstration to be counted as one who cares.
That’s the big ‘C’ Compassion, the one that says empathy is fine, but “What are you going to do about it?” It’s a transformative movement that flows from each individual upward through successive layers of power. In a Democracy guided by Compassion each vote will move this world toward more peaceful tomorrows. That pain you were worried about will be eased.