From my latest release, Breathless, the sentimental, experimental, electronic cross-genre piece of movements. My mind has been all over the place lately, with lofty dreams, nostalgia, and self-reflection at the forefront. It is autumn after all. Though not autumn-feeling, the rest fits.
When a need is satiated, one focuses on other needs that are lacking. To obsess over one need that has been met, trying to feed it again and again when it is ‘full’ and when other needs are not met, is easily likened to addiction. Logically, without examples that might become personal and subjective quickly, the thing to do when one’s highest need is severely unmet, and a lower need, while met, is demanding more attention, is to silence this demand. To beat the addiction. But what happens when one turns away from obsession? That need may suddenly no longer seem to be met, even though what was cut out was excess. But why? Overabundance resulting in higher standards? Those who drink often, they suffer a greater thirst when dry, but those who do not have the luxury can get by comfortably with less. Certainly being comfortable at some levels is not a good thing, and there is still an improvement to be had. For example, I may adjust to a low intake diet, and no longer feel hungry after my stomach shrinks. I will grow frail regardless.
Compassion need not come from one only after all of their needs are met. This is not necessary, nor is it an advisable restriction, but compassion is likely to be the greatest and most effective from those that are most complete. Do you expect a more virtuous person or a less virtuous person to be more effectively passionate? A desperate person or a powerful person (power detached from greed and tyranny. Power of personality)? It can easily be argued that one ought to be compassionate, so here we enter a ring that is obviously of ethics. Which is of higher priority: one being ethical or one’s needs being met? It can be shown that ethics prevails, when simple examples are given. You are starving and trapped with an other person with water but no food, and it may be weeks before you are rescued. The other person has every intention of staying alive. Killing the other person for the sake of eating them is still wrong. Harming others for the sake of satisfying your need for love seems petty, and for sex probably has no possible gray-area scenarios.
So the right thing to do is generally more important than fulfilling needs, and being compassionate is generally the right thing to do. What are the exceptions? Is it always wrong to turn down a chance to be compassionate? Common sense says, ‘No.’ If a person maliciously kills your son or daughter and then suffers a prison sentence for it, no one is going to expect you to feel sorry for them or want them to be happy. Does this come down to a good Samaritan case? Does not feeling compassionate for the murderer hold no ethical weight, as long as it doesn’t result in spite, but choosing to be compassionate is still doing good? Compassion can only be argued to ever be a bad thing by those most driven by the coldest theory of justice.
All around me I see people trying to feel for those who hurt them. Noble, but I wonder if it weakens them, reduces their ability to temper their virtues, and reduce their chances of finding their own happiness. It may be argued that helping others brings about the highest of delights. May be those who argue as such have never experienced what it is like to create some thing wonderful. It is likely that there are different highest delights for different people, especially if we can all have different purposes. Per haps all true purposes are related to bettering the lives of others, but this is irrelevant to the problem, if one’s purpose is not to directly help those that hurt them.
Often I see it as self need-fulfillment. They help those who hurt, because they lack love without those who hurt, or at least feel that they lack it. Ah, but is this true compassion? Exchanging help for love? How else might it be described? ‘Love is the foundation. The hurting is accidental, and the compassion stems from my love for them, not from their love for me.’ Hmm. This is an entirely possible situation, but measurement becomes difficult, when a need is on the line. Different perspective! What if we look at it like this: ‘I will reduce your suffering, if you reduce my suffering.’ Fine and dandy, but less impressive than ‘I will improve your happiness, if you improve my happiness.’ People often confuse relief from pain with pleasure. Relationships based on suffering are lacking. Still, can we know if being compassionate in certain situations is wrong? I think so, and I didn’t need a virtue ethicist’s opinion to get there. Compassion must also be applied to the self. Ah, so if the self suffers more from the caring than the other gains, it is wrong? I don’t think that it is that simple, as then we are simply comparing needs in a utilitarian sort of way. In stead, it is a matter of self love. Would you ever reasonably expect any one else to help you while you harm them? No. So why bring that upon your self, unless you mean to nobly sacrifice, and do so out of pure compassion, not due to gaining some thing in return? This conclusion is still brewing, and I see many different ways that one could get there, so possibly there are notable exceptions. BREW ON, CONVOLUTED MESS OF PURPOSE, NEEDS, NOBILITY, AND COMPASSION! BREW ON!