Activism


at men’s group the other night, i was talking about the difference between compassion and anger as a reaction to the social injustices of the world either in the personal or the abstract (ie through the media).

The analogy I used was as follows:

“Say you’re walking down the street and you see one person violently attacking another person who is obviously weaker and more vulnerable.

To act with anger is to rush in and attack the attacker.

To act with compassion is to rush in to defend the victim.

To act with metta is to rush in to defend the victim but also to see that for the attacker to act in such an injurious inhumane fashion, he is also a victim of a sort and hence to feel metta for the attacker.”

One of the members of the group remained dubious about this approach. He did not elaborate much about it but I felt that I understood. To act with anger is easier and more natural sometimes than to act with compassion. To act with metta is much more difficult.

Most of the people I associate with and who I call my friends safely fall within the left side of politics. So while I’m certain this is true of the other side as well much of the opinions I hear especially with regard to the Howard government comes from a deep and even personal anger at not only the policies of the government but at the individuals themselves.

I do not trust this anger especially when the people I know who are most angry (the left social activist types) are not directly affected by the government’s policies and have in many cases benefited either indirectly through this long period of affluence or more directly through tax cuts.

I do not know where the anger comes from. Often it is directed at very large abstracts – capitalism, multinationals, the oil industry, the fast food industry, drug companies, the Howard government, the wealthy, etc – but in such a way as if the person is individually and personally being affected.

It seems to me that compassion for those who are actually directly being affected would be a more rational reaction. Metta for Mr Howard, Mr Abbot and Mr Costello is of course impossible as in the minds of many I know, these people do not even qualify as human.

As for me, I dont really get angry about things that dont directly affect me. Mind, I dont generally feel that much compassion either for those affected unless I know them personally.

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