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Idiot compassion Vs Wise compassion

“I have not tasted a sweet dish for months now. My wife is very strict as doctors have prohibited me from touching sugar.” the man told his friend while visiting him.

“Oh, I remember you used to love Sweets so much”

“Yeah, I know it is not good for me but sometimes I feel like eating. You said your wife had made Mysore Pak. Can you give me a piece?”

“Sure I can,” said the friend feeling sorry for the man and brought him a piece of the sweet.

“I have a strict budget for buying clothes every month beacuse my husband says I buy things that I don’t wear,” said the woman to her younger sister.

“Okay, I know about that” replied the younger one.

“But I love this dress so much. I don’t want to leave the shop without that.”

“But you have a pact with your husband”

“I know. But if you buy it and gift it to me, I can have the dress and also not break the pact. You can do that for me, no?”

The younger one thought for a moment and said, “If I do that, it is not going to help you. You have a pact for a reason. You have promised yourself to curb your unwanted purchases. This is not about money, this is about a habit. If I buy you that, then I am not really helping you.”

Many of us have the need to help our loved ones and even strangers. The need to help others get what they want is compassion. But there is wise compassion and there is idiot compassion. The first example is one of idiot compassion. When we help others in doing things that are physically, emotionally, spiritually harmful to them, we are being compassionate idiotically. We may think we are being compassionate but we are not. We are enabling behaviour that is harmful to that person.

On the other hand, when the younger sister refused to buy the dress, she thought about it and did not want to subvert the pact the elder sister had with her husband. Although it looks like a refusal to help, that is wise compassion.

Knowing that children are used for begging, giving them money is idiot compassion, buying food for them if they are hungry is wise compassion. Enabling bad behaviour, and helping in illegal or immoral, unethical acts even for a loved one is idiot compassion. Helping people with their genuine needs, and growth needs, and reducing their suffering is wise compassion.

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