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Are Compassion and Justice Mutually Exclusive?

Some people say "justice" but they're thinking vengeance or punishment. The desire for vengeance or punishment is not compatible with compassion - although I think we should be compassionate for those who clamour for these. If justice means "equitable, impartial and righteous" then justice is a form of compassion. Compassion means to meet suffering with love. It does not mean to be permissive or indulgent. What we call evil, is suffering passed on to someone else. It's compassionate to stop this transaction. Like justice, compassion holds people accountable. When someone intentionally causes suffering in someone else, it always reflects some suffering in themselves. The act of perpetrating may offer temporary relief, but the act creates additional suffering (isolation, pain, shame) that the perpetrator may or may not be aware of. For example, to hurt others and not feel empathy is a loneliness so profound that many can not allow it into their awareness. It is not compassionate to pretend that nothing happened.


If you want peace, work for justice - Pope Paul VI


True justice notices and attempts to alleviate the suffering that caused the suffering. It follows the mugging back to the drugs, the drugs back to the need to escape, the need to escape back to poverty. Compassion does this as well but goes further on. From mugging, to poverty, to desire, to the universal existential pain that makes the bodhisattva say "The suffering of sentient beings is ceaseless, I vow to stop it."

#compassion #empathy #howto #suffering

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