As chronically annoyed as I am, I’m still (I like to think) a compassionate person — much to the dismay of those who know me. They get pretty annoyed with my habit of seeing the other side of everyone’s situation. (I remember my father throwing down a paintbrush in frustration and yelling, “Why do you always do that?” “Because there’s another way to look at it,” I said.)
What really annoys me, though, is when people treat me like it’s easy for me. Like I was born that way. I most emphatically was not; it was both a maturity thing and a spiritual practice for me, and it took a long time to break my habits. But it was a decision on my part, not a character trait. I had to learn it, and it was hard.
I’d forgotten that most people don’t think this way until the other day, when I wrote at C&L about Pope Frank calling for an end to the death penalty and to life imprisonment. The comments section was immediately filled with people saying, “Yes, but… all child molesters should be killed!” Or all rapists, or all politicians, or whatever. It reminded me that liberal doesn’t always translate to compassion. Compassion isn’t earned — that’s what makes it compassion. If people deserved it for something they did, it just becomes a transaction. See what I mean?