Compassion for Cruel People


“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” ~Luke 23:34 KJV.

The world is a cruel place. If you have any doubt about that, turn on the news. Watching any news channel for no more than five minutes makes it abundantly clear that there is no shortage of cruelty in all levels of society – from that of the lowliest janitor or laborer to that of the wealthiest financier or ruler – and in all cultural milieus – from the most technologically challenged tribal villages to the most technologically advanced urban centers.

Cruelty is commonplace. There is nothing special or remarkable about sadism. It is widespread and universal. It infects the human condition from childhood through advanced age. We are hard pressed to escape it.

Essentially, as I have discovered, after some reflection, cruelty is a way for weak people to feel empowered. What is truly remarkable is compassion and empathy – that takes inner strength and courage, especially in the face of cruelty.

Cruelty is easy.

Compassion is hard.

And compassion for cruel people is hardest of all.

When one confronts cruelty or a cruel person, the experience is invariably painful in some way – physically or psychologically. The most natural response to cruelty, therefore, is to respond in kind – with more cruelty – to seek to hurt or inflict pain on the people who inflict pain on oneself. The experience of pain makes one feel powerless, and one seeks to respond by inflicting pain on others in order to feel empowered.

One might seek to inflict pain on those whom one deems to be responsible for one’s own pain, thereby gaining a sense of retribution – or on some random, hapless bystander or scapegoat, thereby gaining the satisfaction of feeling oneself to be higher up in the food chain and not quite so helpless as the experience of pain and cruelty invariably make one feel. The sad reality to this situation is that if one responds to cruelty with more cruelty, then one is, essentially, succumbing to the influence of cruelty – becoming infected by the contagion of cruelty – allowing the inhumanity of others and of the circumstances one experiences to rob one of one’s own humanity.

It is a case of “an eye for an eye mak[ing] the whole world blind,” to quote Gandhi.

The most difficult thing in the world is to respond to cruelty with compassion, with kindness, with understanding. What that requires is tremendous inner strength – the strength to absorb pain and not allow a painful experience to render one heartless, unsympathetic and vindictive. It then requires one to try to appreciate the fact that those who are cruel towards you are, invariably, themselves in pain – that they are reacting out of their own personal sources of pain. That they seek to inflict pain on others in an attempt to alleviate the pain that they themselves feel, for some reason. It then requires one to seek to understand their source of pain in order to feel compassion for them.

If one is able to accomplish this truly heroic feat – a feat more admirable than winning any Olympic gold medal, in my humble opinion – one is able to respond to cruelty with compassion, with kindness, with empathy, and, thereby, one is able to overcome it, and not be overcome by it. One is then truly able to “love your enemy” and “turn the other cheek” and, in doing so, help to make the world a slightly better place.

The “Denial of Science”


These days, one frequently comes across the term “science denier”. It has almost become an accusation – a charge that even though one is an educated adult living in the 21st century, one has willfully opted to deny the all-pervasive, all-powerful supremacy of Science. It is as though “Science” has become a god, of sorts, and scientific materialism has become a religion. In this framework of the new religion of atheistic scientific materialism, the so-called “science deniers” are the new heretics and, it might be suggested by the science-fanatics, should be burned at the stake!

But what does it really mean to be a “science denier”? Does it mean denying the veracity of Newton’s laws of motion or Einstein’s theories of relativity? That is not the denial of science – that is merely ignorance about scientific matters. Can anyone seriously claim that, living in the 21st century, one actually denies these basic scientific truths? I can hardly imagine that to be the case.

The adherents of  modern scientific materialism allege that the so-called “science deniers” are regressive medievalists who are intent on perpetuating a theocracy rooted in superstition, witch-hunts and religious fundamentalism. That is an extreme caricature and can hardly be taken seriously by any rational adult in modern society. In fact, I would suggest, the term “science denier” is being used to attack those who question the ethics of what goes on in the name of cutting-edge science and scientific research. For example, are GMOs and the practices of Big Pharma ethical? Is the cloning of human beings ethical? Is transhumanism ethical? These are tough questions that, in my opinion, need to be debated in the public square. However, as long as there are powerful corporate interests who stand to lose a lot of money by the public disclosure of ethical issues such as these, one can rest assured that they will devote themselves to the cover-up of such ethical dilemmas and to perpetuating disinformation about them, such as labelling ethical dissenters as “science deniers”!

If being a “science denier” meant questioning the veracity of certain scientific ideas, then one needs to go no further than scientists themselves! The field of quantum mechanics, for example, has revealed the reality of the anomalous behavior of subatomic particles that frequently contradict long-held, established ideas such as Newtonian and Einsteinian mechanics. Indeed, science takes pride in such self-contradiction – self-denial, as it were! There is nothing more scientific than the denial of science, because if quantum mechanics can disprove Einstein’s theories of relativity, it implies that quantum mechanics has overthrown the established doctrine and proclaimed itself as the new “god” – all in the name of science!

But the “denial of science”, in its colloquial usage, means anything but that. It is, in fact, a politically charged term, used to label anyone who stands opposed, on ethical grounds, to a radical science-oriented agenda, as a benighted, regressive, superstitious luddite with medieval attitudes. And modern corporations like Monsanto (who sells GMOs and carcinogenic herbicides like Roundup), its subsidiary Bayer (who once sold heroin as a cough remedy for children and manufactured the Zyklon B poison gas used on concentration camp inmates by Nazis) and others get to push their questionable, if not utterly depraved, agendas as cutting-edge science.

To question the limits of our current understanding of the universe is not the “denial of science”. It is to suggest that our current understanding of science is inadequate and incomplete. It is to suggest that the universe is more complex and profound than we mortal human beings may ever be capable of understanding. Is that the basis of religious awe? Perhaps it is – but perhaps it is no different than the religious awe expressed by the likes of Einstein and Oppenheimer when confronted by the awe-inspiring wonders exposed to them by their own scientific work.