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WORLD PHILOSOPHY DAY

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WORLD PHILOSOPHY DAY
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18/11/16 20:18
TOWARDS A MORE COMPASSIONATE WORLD
I woke up two days ago to a devastating news of a 7-year-old child who was burnt alive in a jungle-justice kind of treatment in Lagos, Nigeria. This child, according to the news was accused of stealing a Nigerian staple food called garri and he was caught and then was beaten badly and then burnt alive in public. There were spectators to the scene and active perpetrators to the act. I wept for the poor child. I guess that child must have been hungry. There was nobody who could rescue that child from that angry and insensitive mob. Though some think this victim was not actually a child. But does it matter? A human person was burnt alive for stealing food!
 
A few weeks ago, another clip from some part of the United States showed two ladies fighting in the public. They practically fought themselves with ferocity and stripped each other stark naked. The guys who were there watched them as spectators while some people, adults both men and women walked and passed by. It was an eye sore to see the clip and the shamelessness of these ladies coupled with the “fun” those spectators were having in watching them fight and strip themselves naked in the public.
 
Some of us may have also seen in the past few months the various clips of Isis or Boko Haram beheading their so called infidels mainly the Christians and showing it off for the world to see. Both men and women they slaughter with knives in the name of religion.
 
These graphic instances are only a tip of the iceberg that point to a world desensitized of human feeling and sense of human dignity. It is gradually becoming a norm to see and hear of such inhuman things with the help of social media. It therefore, raises the question of the place of compassion in our human engagement.
 
The question of compassion may be better approached by the lack of compassion in a given situation. Then, we can find a route to what compassion could be. In these few instances, one may begin by seeing the sport in what has become a self-inflicted calamity. This is a possible school of thought. However, one may also reason otherwise and question what sort of people are these who could be watching such inhuman and graphic episodes unfold without stopping it from happening? Or, how can one perpetrate such awful thing to another? The lack of compassion can stretch from the neglect to prevent a verbal or domestic abuse to perpetrating the act itself; it can also be something as serious as the graphic images aforementioned.   
 
In the Christian scripture, we often read the phrase, “Jesus moved with pity…” as a certain disposition to his work of mercy. Besides this peculiar disposition are the classical examples portrayed in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10: 25-37) and the real scene of the Woman caught in Adultery (Jn. 8: 1-11).  But more interestingly are the divine parameters of judging human actions on the Day of Judgment in the separation of the sheep and the goat in Matthew’s gospel Chapter 25 (cf. 31-46). These are insights into possible responses of omission or commission as it pertains to different life experiences. It suggests that the passion of the victim urges alleviation by a response of a possible helper. The response the helper offers is an outpouring of compassion. Thus, “passion calls for compassion.” When the awful experience of another (the victim) is met by the empathy of another who offers some help to alleviate the victim’s experience, the act itself is what I consider to be compassion.
 
In the instances given at the beginning of this reflection, the perpetrators and the spectators lacked compassion. There was none seen to help. The spectators looked on as if it were a sport. The perpetrators made more awful the experience of their victim(s). This is what our world has turned out to be. It is not simply heartbreaking, but fearful and very unfortunate!
 
The inkling towards compassion is based on the value one places on every human person. The dignity of the human person is inherent. It is what should influence our actions and response to one another irrespective of age, class, gender, culture or religious affiliation and sexual orientation. The value of compassion is immeasurable on the scale of human dignity. This is the value I place on compassion. It also feeds the reason why it is an invaluable thing to do. It was Martin Heidegger who said, “Man is a bundle of possibilities.” These human possibilities can lead one to positive actions. It can as well lead one to a plethora of negative things. It was in the last century that a single ideology was used to almost wipe out a race from the face of the earth – the Shoah! The awful experience of the Holocaust still haunts this generation. In the subsequent events of blood-letting, ethnic cleansing – whether that of the Biafra pogrom or Rwandan genocide – or the prevalent Islamic extremism, there is a gradient of desensitization of human worth. This is why this kind of evolution will become something on a larger scale if serious action is not taken at different levels of our social engagement.
 
The contribution Globethics.net can give towards a more compassionate world can be strategic.
I prefer to term it the EPARR – Strategy. This involves education, policy, accountability, rehabilitation and reward. Let me explain further:
Education to form consciences could be encouraged beginning at the primary education level and going through to the tertiary education stage in all institutions of learning as a core subject. This could involve modules from scriptures and narratives from real life experiences.
Policy development and integration that could be enforced by the United Nations for all nations of the free world or those who must be given attention by this world body. It can be an addendum to prevalent torture policies or incarceration environment that have not been hitherto given adequate attention by some countries.
Accountability of perpetrators and spectators of instances such as given above. A criminal investigation should follow such incidents. When people are held accountable for both sins of omission and commission, some degree of decency could be instilled into some human dispositions.
Rehabilitation of victims in given situations could be encouraged and introduced as an inevitable stage of rescuing victim(s). Rehabilitation could involve safe-nets for victims of abuse on a case by case basis. Or, encouraging institutions whose vision is about compassion by supporting their programs with some kind of special publicity.
Reward incentives to children who show acts of compassion. This can be encouraging and help to instill in the children at an early stage the values of compassion.
 
One invaluable aspect of the EPARR – Strategy is that it targets child development at an early stage. This is a way of forming the adults of tomorrow and our future leaders. While the world of ethics mourns a world that is lacking in compassion, the future of humanity can be safeguarded by a strategy of renewal consistent with ethics of compassion.