The Conundrum of Compassion

The Conundrum of Compassion March 20, 2012

And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders and went backwards, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.


I’m not going to post the video here but in all likelihood you’ve already seen it. The video of Invisible Children’s co-founder Jason Russell, nude and ranting, has been been front and center at The Huffington Post and various other news sources online, as well as played and replayed on all the major television news shows. Anchors have made one quip after another, smugly considering their verbal volleys all in good sport, considering.

But that’s the problem isn’t it?

They aren’t being very considerate. In fact, many of the so-called news sources initially reported that Jason Russell was performing a lewd act in public. Some suggested he was delusional due to drug usage.

Few, however, verified or substantiated facts before running to print rumor and innuendo.

The idea seemed to be Let’s expose the man in all of his nakedness and humiliate him the best we can, which, tragically, seems to be the way of media lately.

I knew the minute I saw the first headline that Russell was likely having a mental breakdown of some sort. I’ve witnessed that sort of thing up close and personal and once that happens you know all the triggers.

In the weeks leading into his apparent mental breakdown, Russell  released the very stirring documentary KONY 2012. He’d worked for years to document the atrocities of children being forced into military slave-hood by Kony. And, to his credit, it showed. The video went viral and people the world over suddenly forgot — briefly — about Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan and began to talk about really important things, real news stories, like the Invisible Children.

For a brief moment, we all began to care about something really important.

But alas, that was quickly followed by the skeptics among us. Those who wanted to suggest that Russell had his own selfish motives for wanting to Stop Kony from his abuses. It was surreal listening to the discussions online and in the news. It was like a military diversion tactic, or something Wormwood might have thought up. There was more criticisms of Invisible Children and Russell than there was of Kony and his atrocities.

We are good at that.

When we get to feeling convicted over anything, we look to blame somebody else. Anyone or anything that makes us feel convicted or guilty is immediately suspect, and a target of our collective ridicule and anger. It’s the conundrum of compassion in a culture intent on cultivating narcissists.

We are like  a pack of rabid dogs, attacking and eating one another alive.

If journalists would do their real jobs — the ones that call them to verify information and print the factual evidence of something — it would go a long way toward settling the hysteria of meanness that plagues us.

In one article I read, a person noted that Russell had spoken at Liberty University, as if speaking at a conservative Christian college was some sort of indictment of wrongdoing or wackiness.

Perhaps,  the lunacy isn’t Russell’s. Had we witnessed the atrocities toward children that Russell has seen, wouldn’t renting our clothes and screaming in the streets until others intervened on behalf of these children be the sane thing to do?

There is a definite disconnect, mentally and emotionally, when we choose to divert the conversation away from the wrongs being inflicted upon children to a national discussion of ridicule and humiliation of a man who did the one thing we keep failing to do


getting off our high horses and waging a battle on behalf of tortured children.

Jason Russell cared.

And that was his shame among a nation of people too smug to.

Now that Jason Russell is getting medical treatment for his compassion we can go back to focusing on our celebrities and our own problems.


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