When Is Compassion Not Compassionate?

Have you ever noticed when some folks say we should help the less fortunate, to show compassion for the poor/homeless/mentally ill/addicted, they really mean that someone other than them should be the ones to do the work? Once done, they then feel good about themselves for having “done something”. But do they ever really see the outcomes of all those things they’ve “done”? For the most part, no.

If they do, more often than not they’ll see that what help was given did help for a while, but the problem they induced others to help with has not gotten better. The number of poor/homeless/mentally ill/addicted will have stayed the same, or worse, will have increased. This will require even more “compassion”, which usually translates as “more tax money”. Then that help is provided which in turn leads to even more people ‘needing’ help. Then even of more money will be needed to provide even more help, and the cycle will continue.

By providing help the way it has been done for decades, we have merely made the problem worse. To paraphrase someone somewhen, “If you subsidize something, you get more of it.” We have been subsidizing the poverty-stricken, the homeless, the mentally ill, and the addicted. And what have we received for all the money, time, and effort that has been put into solving the problems of those unfortunates? More of them. Call it the unintended consequences of compassion, specifically too much compassion of the type that solves nothing.

It's time we measure success by results, not intentions. We've failed enough times to have learned our lesson. And those we profess to care about deserve better.