Off the Line: Are we forgetting about compassion?

Sometimes I wonder at those who seem to have little or no compassion for his or her fellow humans.

Sometimes I wonder at those who seem to have little or no compassion for his or her fellow humans.

It is with great interest that I watch TV regarding the displaced Syrians. The controversy which surrounds them is incredible and it seemsthat the very topic is extremely polarizing.

There are those who say that, as decent human beings, we owe it to the Syrians, or anyone for that matter, for us to be kind, caring andhelpful Canadians. They believe that we should throw open our doors, our homes and our country in a gesture of good old Canadiancourtesy. Of course, we all know or have heard or read about the controversy regarding the Syrians and their perceived relationship withISIS. I won’t publicly wade into that discussion not just because it is so potentially explosive, but simply because I don’t feel like arguingwith anyone about it. You know the saying: pick your battles. That, by the way, has been one of the most insightful and helpful pieces ofadvice that I have ever heard. And we all know that sometimes those little skirmishes are distracting and take our eyes off the prize. Iprefer to use all my energy for the bigger things in life and I can tell you from a personal level that those bigger things can leave youexhausted and weary.

All that being said, I want to tell you about an online discussion I witnessed last week.

The discussion was around whether we should so expediently welcome Syrians to Canada. Or, for that matter, whether we shouldwelcome them at all.

One person who offered his opinion said that he was sick and tired of hearing about that when Canada has its own homeless populationand a multitude of those who live in poverty.

I am sure you readers have all heard some form of this discussion and have your very own and strong opinion on that matter. There ishardly any gray area to wade through. It is quite black and white, wouldn’t you agree?

Anyway, while the topic was a hot one, the response to the question above was, to me, quite horrifying.

The responder said, in effect, that the homeless and those living in poverty brought it upon themselves and that the homeless andpoverty stricken “chose” their lifestyle.

Pardon me? While I admirably kept my fingers off the keyboard prior to that, I couldn’t help jumping in at that point.

You see, my brother is homeless. He has been homeless for about 10 years. Trust me when I say that had my brother not been mentally illand addicted to numerous drugs, he would never have chosen to be one of our disenfranchised. Never!

He never chose the mental illness which brought him to the long road of drug addiction and eventually his homelessness. To sayotherwise is not only a disservice to him, but to those who struggle daily against their circumstances.

This is not the first time I have seen or heard utterings of that nature against others in less fortunate circumstances.

The only thing I can surmise is that those who post or say such things are, without a doubt, ignorant. To live in the world we live in todayand not feel compassion for those types of people is absolutely unconscionable and only echoes the real fear I have for society in general.

To have no compassion, and yet worse, no real understanding speaks not to the character of the homeless, poverty stricken and mentallyill, but rather speaks to the character of the person who, for all the worldly goods he has surrounding him does not know the truemeaning of richness. Richness is not found in the value of the things we own. It can’t be bought.

If I was to compare those homeless people to that one poster, I can say that it’s the poster who is the poorest.

To be poverty stricken of the soul and compassion is far worse, in my mind, than those stricken with monetary poverty. Merry Christmasand season’s greetings to those who honour different traditions. May you always have love and compassion in your heart.