Re: Compassion vs. benevolence

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Tue, 16 Sep 1997 11:01:34 -0700 (PDT)

> On the other hand, I cannot help but
> disagree with your assertion that a *desire* to end suffering is a
> prerequisite of acting to end it.
> I see too many counter-examples where actions taken from the
> desire to end suffering tend to increase what I see as suffering,
> and where actions apparently based on an indifference to suffering
> have, as a part-consequence, a reduction in suffering.

Quite true; I could have worded that better. I still think, though,
that while desire to end suffering is neither a necessary nor sufficient
condition to actually ending it, it /is/ more likely to achieve that
result in rational minds. Rational minds are persuaded by results, and
if they see their actions increasing suffering, their desire to end
it will encourage them to act differently. It is unfortunate that
there are also large numbers of irrational minds who create suffering
and refuse to acknowledge that, and keep creating more while protesting
their desire to end it and calling us names when we point to facts.

I point this out because I don't want to confuse what I am calling
"compassion" with mere benevolence, as Rand used the term. The former
is a choice I make freely, and that I would not criticize others for
not making; the latter is a moral imperative.