Compassion, Harmlessness and Mary Trump

Compassion is not only a basis for Buddhism it is also one for Christianity since love without compassion would hardly be love. It thus unifies Eastern and Western traditions and is a trait without which our humanity would be in question. Like so many I endeavor to deepen my understanding of compassion and look for its manifestations as some sort of assurance that humanity is moving forward. It is with keen interest that I watched Mary Trump’s ’TV appearances and read the interviews she gave. She was poised and her manner did not fall prey to wanton criticisms, her view evolved from facts and the inward search those facts seem to me to have elicited within her. Her honesty underlined how articulate she was and her perception though unstinting was not without cause. While some may call it cold and unsparing, I would call it compassionate. Why? Because as best as I can see she wasn’t interested in criticizing but understanding, and her efforts led her to see her uncle, our president, in relation to the context that gave rise to his behavior. She came to the conclusion that that behavior and way of being and living was dangerous, and when asked if she had compassion for him, she said she used to but does not now. Should compassion extend to actions and behavior we deem dangerous, or in my own cosmology, harmful? I would say no.  In the Mary Trump instance a chief reason is that the danger her uncle poses represents a conclusion of her analysis and pondering. She did not decide he was dangerous and then tried to prove it. That conclusion does not undo the underlying compassion that got her there, the need to understand, to sort out, to make sense, to not judge without cause. When things or people are harmful, compassion has a totally different role, and Mary Trump indirectly perhaps helps us better see that role .I, for example, do not feel compassion for Nazis or slave owners because some actions go beyond the reach of compassion. Despite some exceptions, as adults slave owners and Nazis chose to be cruel refusing awareness of the harm they were causing, just as to the best of my understanding this president is choosing harmful policies without caring about the suffering they lead to.