Limits of Compassion

The best lecture series I ever heard was on "compassion" being the root of the culture of death, delivered by Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete at Providence Hospital here in DC probably more than a decade ago now. He used Walker Percy novels to illustrate. I think of it all the time as we hurtle down the Rousseau Road in this country, determined not to see or avoid the disasters our brethren in all the rest of the West have experienced.

Rousseau's project is to break down culture through "compassion." Compassion and respect for nature, which is why so many Christians and other decent people (like Crunchy Cons) fall for it. Aren't we supposed to be compassionate with our fellow men?

Well, yes, but holy compassion gives you, according to your need, a listening ear, a boost up, a swift kick in the pants or a friend to accompany you through unavoidable evils. Materialist compassion tends to relieve the sorrows of life by putting you out of your misery. It also comes joined at the hip with the worst meanness imaginable. Because if you should dare not show "compassion" to this week's official group-in-need-of-compassion, the entire populace turns on you like ravening wolves.

Saul Alinsky (read that summary to understand Obama's playbook, by the way) is just Rousseau with a handbook as far as I can tell (Manipulating the General Will for Dummies). So anyway, I liked this from Anthony Esolen:
I cannot think of a single degradation of our culture that has not come into the room dabbing at its eyes with a handkerchief, pleading for mercy, or pleading for the opportunity to bring mercy -- why, joy itself! -- to poor unfortunate others.

and also:
After one hundred years of bloodshed and misery brought down upon the heads of ordinary people by materialist ideologues in Berlin, Peking, Moscow, Pyongyang, Hanoi, and elsewhere, and after the collapse of civilization in materialist Western Europe, one might think that the insufficiency of secularism, or rather the bloody danger it poses to human life and well-being, might be acknowledged. In other words, the secularist wishes at once to deny the holy, and to avert his gaze from the killing fields or the broken homes or just the mindless and joyless despair that are the results of denying the holy. Unless, as I've suggested, it's not right to say he averts his gaze. He wants us to avert our gaze. He knows what he's looking at, and approves of it, because it is the condition of his power.