According to what I read today from Open Democracy, compassion is mentioned several times in their manifesto for the 2015 General Election.
Intrigued, I looked further to find an article which claimed that UKIP is "the only party to tread the line between competition and compassion."
Justifiably it was critical of Ian Duncan Smiths policy on austerity going on to say that it's a not a question about the need to get people back into work. but how to achieve that:
"There is a clear moral difference between paying someone who has never worked benefits that give them an income and lifestyle above the national average, and the state lending a helping hand to people who have fallen on hard times."
As someone running an organisation which is a partner in the Charter for Compassion, I wrote for them about the application of compassion in preventing terrorism. The source was a proposal for a Muslim community at risk - in Crimea. Part of the Eastern Europe from where UKIP sees the threat of immigration, which in thier perception will mean less for those already here.
"It is not enough to merely give people the things they need to survive. This will work for a short time, but is not a long-term solution. There is an old saying: give a man a fish and he can eat for one day. Teach him to fish and he can eat for a lifetime. Giving people enough to live today may be enough for today, but it is not enough for tomorrow. Helping and teaching people to make a living, sustain themselves and their families, is in fact the only long-term solution to the problem of poverty. Further, for the first phase of economic development or economic recovery of any location, it is also possible to create an ongoing source of the critical funding needed to get the job done"
It was written around the time that the Labour government made social enterprise government policy
“Substitute personal greed with compassion, and the balance sheets will still work out just fine. Profit/loss statements take on a whole new dimension and meaning. Greed and capitalism are not one and the same thing. “Social” capitalism, social enterprise, is perfectly doable. This is the most effective sustainable strategy available for alleviating widespread human suffering stemming from poverty and all that comes with it — up to and including terrorism.”
Where compassion seems to be contradicted,by UKIP is in the suggestion that those on benefit are exceeding average incomes, when there's clear evidence that many suffer hardship. Some have died under the austerity program it would seem that they matter less.
This was said of Crimea 13 years ago:
"By leaving people in poverty, at risk of their lives due to lack of basic living essentials, we have stepped across the boundary of civilization. We have conceded that these people do not matter, are not important. Allowing them to starve to death, freeze to death, die from deprivation, or simply shooting them, is in the end exactly the same thing. Inflicting or allowing poverty on a group of people or an entire country is a formula for disaster.
These points were made to the President of the United States near the end of 1996. They were heard, appreciated and acted upon, but unfortunately, were not able to be addressed fully and quickly due primarily to political inertia. By way of September 11, 2001 attacks on the US out of Afghanistan – on which the US and the former Soviet Union both inflicted havoc, destruction, and certainly poverty – I rest my case. The tragedy was proof of all I warned about, but, was no more tragedy than that left behind to a people in an far corner of the world whom we thought did not matter and whom we thought were less important than ourselves.
We were wrong."
All of Europe is now threatened by the cost of a war in this region.
It was that brought us from North Carolina to the UK when food banks and payday lenders were no so prevalent, making this point about inequality:
"While the vast majority of people in poverty suffer quietly and with little protest, it is not safe to assume that everyone will react the same way. When in defence of family and friends, it is completely predictable that it should be only a matter of time until uprisings become sufficient to imperil an entire nation or region of the world. People with nothing have nothing to lose. Poverty was therefore deemed not only a moral catastrophe but also a time bomb waiting to explode."
It happened 7 years later in 2011.
Compassion isn't about defending ourselves and our own, as Erich Fromm argued:
“Love of the helpless, the poor and the stranger, are the beginning of brotherly love. To love ones flesh and blood is no achievement. The animal loves its young and cares for them. Only in the love of those who do not serve a purpose, does love begin to unfold. Compassion implies the element of knowledge and identification. “
There is a powerful case for englightened self-interest in this chaotic world, with its threats of pandemic, political instability and extremist violience. This is enlightened self-interest. The understanding that failing to act will incur a greater cost and cannot be controlled by borders..
There is much to be criticised in the way aid is deployed, but to argue that massive reductions will bring benefit to our communities is fatally short sighted and has nothing to do with compassion.