Monday, November 21, 2005

Compassion - Truth = spinning wheel

dagnyscott's epiphany, in a thread on AskMeFi:

Well I recently got out of a long-term relationship (not my decision) and actually when I finally cut things off, emotionally, I felt as if I was waking up from a four-year dream, and I realized a number of things.

One of them is that compassion is next to worthless without truth. Because we're human, of course, we can never be a perfect embodiment of either of them. There are all these people out there who think they can act out of their own sense of compassion and empathy and that will be enough, but if they have no respect for truth, that does little actual good. They help people who package their problems best but even those people aren't really helped, because they've packaged their problems so that no one sees or addresses the root cause.

[update] I've been asked to elaborate on this, though it's not my material. I saw it almost an oblique artwork, best left to the reader's interpretation.

But yes, I have an interpretation. I've attempted, in my own compassion and empathy, to help someone who had self-defined their problems into addressable packages.

"I need X;" I'd provide X.
"You can help me by Y;" I'd begin to Y.
"I'll go crazy if we don't Z;" I'd undertake plans to Z.

But no handling of any of these packages began to touch the underlying problems. The real issues swirled and percolated along, as if carried by an underground spring, while I busied myself with visible, futile chores on the surface. By the time I learned the truth — the real problems, the root causes — the spring had run dry and it was too late. All the effort expended, in all good intentions, and I had not actually helped at all.