Intolerance and compassion

Some people get a little mixed up thinking intolerance is something wrong and that compassion should be reserved for our friends. I think it depends very much whether we are talking actions or people here.

For example, most people would consider the actions of Adolf Hitler and his henchmen absolutely intolerable. And I would agree with them and see nothing wrong in that. But what about Adolf Hitler and the other Nazi evildoers? Surely we should try, impossible, as it seems, to see that they were humans and only wanted happiness the same as us and are therefore worthy of our compassion. This is what His Holiness the Dalai Lama is telling us. We should definitely condemn the crimes the Chinese government are committing in Tibet but we should have nothing but wishes for the happiness and well being of the perpetrators. We could say that people like Hu Jintao are crazy but should we therefore go hating everyone who is mentally ill – even the Taliban or members of Al Qa’ida, if you like? No we should hope they regain their sanity and good health.

Some people are against abortion – they see it as murder in the first degree. But even though these people cannot tolerate what they see as the killing of an unborn child, they have no right to blow up the abortionists. No. We must have compassion for absolutely everyone – friends, strangers and enemies alike. We must also be at least tolerant of their existence, but we do not have to agree with everyone or tolerate all of their actions.

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Replies to This Discussion

Compassion, I would think, is also feeling empathy for your "enemies" - without being judgmental. I'm not really sure what "condemn" means though, since that is a judgment too. Who cares who thinks something is right or wrong. What do I have to condemn anything for? Does it matter to anyone else? I don't care what they think, it has no bearing on what I believe.

You find what Hitler did as wrong, but in his mind he was right in trying to create his version of utopia. I just think of what his mother and father did to him (which was part of the problem). Obviously something happened that really put him over the edge, and for that millions had to suffer. But then again the spiritual growth of some survivors were a testimony of the power of the spirit. We cannot judge people. Horrific events happen, it's up to us to make it into something that is positive and productive to us. It is always possible, you have the power to choose your response - that is the key to being human, not on the good vs evil story that will just never go away.

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