Recent attacks in Nice, France, the bombings that took place across the Middle East during the holy month of Ramadan and the deaths linked to police shootings show that we as humans no longer have compassion and mercy for one another. We are willing to kill one another without a second thought as to what we are doing. One of the key reasons for our disregard is that we no longer surround ourselves with guidelines for living. One of the ways we used to govern our actions and ourselves was through religion and religious ideologies. Religion, which up until recent years, brought communities together but is now a relic of the past. Religion has always taught us to be kind, compassionate and merciful towards one another. No longer valuing religion, we have forgotten the important philosophies that come with it. Mercy, forgiveness and compassion. All three of these philosophies go hand in hand. The two sorely lacking in recent tragic events are mercy and compassion. What exactly are mercy and compassion though and why are these key elements in our survival?
The Oxford Dictionary defines compassion as:
“Sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.”
The Oxford Dictionary defines mercy as:
“Compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”
A key element in almost every religion, these two philosophies are two of the things said to separate man from animals. Many people consider those who do not have mercy on others to be the worst of the worst out there.
It is basic knowledge that by showing someone mercy even when they have wronged you, you are being the bigger person. Mercy isn’t seen as being weak, but rather strong; you are going against the instincts of self-preservation in order to forgive someone who has wronged you. Compassion is one action that requires higher thinking and understanding. It requires you to go against natural instincts and consciously make a decision. One of our biggest downfalls as a society lately, is that we no longer have compassion. By not being compassionate, we are not thinking of the people we are hurting. The truck driver in Nice had no compassion or humanity when he killed and injured hundreds of people. The bombers in the Middle East did not think of all the families who would be hurt by their attacks and the police officers who killed civilians did not think of the impact that their actions would have on the families of the men they killed. Our society has developed a selfishness with the lack of compassion and humanity. We no longer look at someone and think of who is behind him or her. We do not think of how our actions hurt not only the person directly but also how it extends further out like the roots of a plant. We must find our compassion and mercy once again if we are to survive as a society. If we do not bring these philosophies back into our lives, our name will be next to other great societies that did not survive because it did not change. We must change our values and ourselves lest we want to live long enough to watch our society be destroyed by our hands.