So we’ll stick with compassion for a few days.

Reiterating: yes, I think everyone deserves kindness and compassion.

Everyone means everyone.

It is tragic that a young man killed another human being and made the decision to end his life in a jail cell. Being in a place where taking your own life becomes the best, most rational decision in your mind is deeply tragic. It doesn’t matter how you got there. There is a place for compassion for anyone in that situation.

It is tragic to see anyone become so oppressed by an ideology or belief system that they are willing to harm others because of it. We only get one chance at this life, for it to be spent in darkness and delusion is an unspeakable tragedy. A one-time window into an amazing universe wasted. There is a place for compassion for those living in violence and hatred. 

Yes, it is much easier to have compassion for the victims of Aaron Hernandez and ISIS, and the victims certainly deserve our compassion, but withholding it from the perpetrators helps no one and only adds to the sum total of hatred in the world.

We like to think that hating those that hate others balances the scale on some cosmic level, or that we are accomplishing something by shutting off our kindness and compassion, but we are not. This only affects us, and never in a positive way.

Those who are suffering create more suffering in the world. We don’t have to add to that.

None of this means we become victims or walk around wide-eyed and stupid, but we can protect ourselves and those we love without anger or hatred. We can offer kindness and compassion without putting ourselves in dangerous or foolish positions.

Anger and hatred trick us into thinking they offer positions of power when they are really just expressions of fear and refusal to engage with reality as it is.

The gray area of compassion for those who bring harm and pain to ourselves and others may be uncomfortable, but it is much more real, and real is always better.