Compassion is driven by the knowledge that no matter how good things may seem, we can always do better.
Wisdom is driven by the knowledge that we can also always do a whole lot worse.
Propaganda is the pretext of knowledge, applied to turn compassion against wisdom.
True knowledge is that which unites compassion with wisdom.
How do you tell the difference between propaganda and knowledge? This is by no means easy. Doing so requires understanding all of the sides of a given issue, such that you can debate from any of them as well as do the adherents of each side. If you can do that, you can probably discern truth from propaganda, and can then seek knowledge.
As an example, can you tell me the differences between capitalism, communism, fascism, and socialism? How about the differences between totalitarianism, libertarianism, and anarchy? Do you understand each of these things well enough to debate in favor of them as well as do those who do favor them?
If you can not debate in favor of all of these things as well as do adherents, then you do not know enough to separate propaganda from knowledge, at least in relation to those things.
Some people have remarkable knowledge in some areas, and very little in others. Noam Chomsky is arguably the world’s single most knowledgeable linguist, but he very clearly succumbs to propaganda when it comes to economics. It is tempting to believe someone who is very, very smart, and also very knowledgeable in certain areas, even when they are speaking outside their wheelhouse, but as tempting as doing so may be, it can also be foolish.
I do not doubt the compassion of Noam Chomsky. I do not doubt the compassion of liberals in general. I take it as a matter of faith that most people are compassionate, and that most people want to build a better world. My problem with liberals, and with liberalism in general, is that it seems to assume that it already knows how, exactly, to make the world better, and I am not, by and large, convinced in their methods.
Most of the systems that provide our basic needs are incredibly complex, and on some level we all recognize this. How many people reading this, for example, have the prerequisite knowledge to rebuild a city’s electrical grid from scratch?
I do not have that knowledge.
Let’s say that someone who knew nothing about electricity, in terms of how it is generated and distributed, was tasked with rebuilding your city’s electrical grid, from scratch. Would you trust that person to keep your lights on?
I would not trust that person.
I would not doubt that this person WANTS to keep my electricity running – I just would not trust them to be ABLE to do so. An electrical grid is complicated, so someone who knows nothing about electrical grids would be far more apt to break it than to make it better, no matter how compassionate they may be. I would never want to put someone who does not have the detailed knowledge about producing and distributing electricity in charge of my city’s electrical grid. Doing so seems reckless to me.
I cannot hit Justin Verlander’s fastball. I cannot, in fact, hit any pitch Justin Verlander might throw at me. It is not a lack of compassion, or a lack of desire, that prevents me from being able to hit against Justin Verlander. It is purely a lack of ability.
I cannot rebuild my city’s electrical grid for the same reason.
Would you put Bernie Sanders in charge of your city’s electrical grid? How about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? How about Ted Cruz, or Donald Trump?
Only two of those names have plans for redoing your city’s electrical grids (as well as the electrical grids for the rest of the nation), and those names are not Ted Cruz, or Donald Trump.
Who wrote those plans? Hint – they were not written by experts in electrical production and distribution…
I do not question the compassion of Bernie Sanders, or of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I do question their knowledge over some of the things they want to rebuild from the ground up.
An economy is a very complex thing. I have studied economics, and what I have learned is that an economy cannot be centrally managed. Based on that, while I understand the arguments proponents of central planning make, and can make those arguments as well as can those proponents, I can also see that THOSE arguments are based on propaganda and not knowledge.
A lot of people on the left DO question the compassion of those on the right. Is that because those on the left have knowledge those on the right lack? In some cases I do not doubt this is the case, but it is certainly not always the case. Something else must drive the belief that those on the right lack compassion.
And frankly, people on be right can be equally guilty of questioning the compassion of people on the left, for the same reasons.
The temptation to doubt the compassion of those with whom we disagree is not a left/right thing. Both sides can be equally guilty.
To make matters worse, while I do not doubt the compassion of MOST people, I do question the compassion of SOME people, and I think it is often a LACK of compassion that drives people into the quest for power. Power corrupts, so I also think that many who seek power for compassionate reasons lose their compassion as they gain power.
I do not trust power, and as such, I prefer governance to be as limited, and as local, as practical.
That does not mean I do not want government. Of course I want government!
But I want a government that protects my natural rights, and not a government that controls me in violation of my natural rights.
I see too many people, on both sides, SEEKING compassion. Why do they seek compassion? I would hope they already HAVE compassion!
These people sometimes will say they seek ‘compassionate solutions.’ How do you know if a solution is ‘compassionate’?
I gauge the ‘compassion’ of a SOLUTION based entirely on how well it works. The intent of those who propose a solution does not interest me. The road to hell was paved with good intentions, as the saying goes. A compassionate solution is also a workable, practical solution – and choosing those requires wisdom more so than compassion.
There is nothing more damaging than misplaced compassion. If you have no wisdom, you have nothing, and in fact, recognizing how little we know – this is the first step toward wisdom…
Seek wisdom. Only through wisdom will you learn to deliver on your compassion in ways that help people, rather than in ways that hurt them.
People tend to be more liberal when they are young, and tend to become more conservative as they get older. This is not because their compassion wanes, but because as people age, they tend to also grow in wisdom. Wise people know how little they know, and have tremendous gratitude things work as well as they do. While wise people certainly would like things to work even better, they understand that it is far easier to break a complex system, than to improve one, and as such, those who are wise take some caution with regard to change.
This is not to say that wise people are against change. Change is constant, so only a fool would be against change. Wise people are against naivety, and unfortunately, the naïve always seek change.
And what is naivety? It is quite literally “the lack of wisdom.”
Please do us all a favor. Seek knowledge, and through it, wisdom, and do that BEFORE you try to save the world.