THE COUNSELOR'S CORNER: Politics, life and compassion

By Fred Cavaiani

Without compassion, life will be miserable. Have you ever asked a friend for help and they coldly said no, they couldn't help you? Your request was simple. The response was painful. Have you ever asked a family member for help in doing something like helping you move some boxes or bring you to pick up your car from the mechanic? Simple requests that would not take much effort. What if the response was a criticism that you dared asked them for help? What would you feel?

Whenever we experience a lack of compassion from other people, we hurt inside. Every business that fails and every church that fails will discover that the absence of warmth and compassion toward its members is the main cause for the failure. People do not want to go where they feel diminished. How pleasant is it to be around someone whom you know will quickly criticize you or demean you if you see things differently?

When politics or institutions lack compassion towards its weakest members, that institution is floundering. Abusive or insensitive people create a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness in the people around them. What is also created is a sense of mistrust.

Politically right now there is much mistrust and absence of compassion. Our government leaders do not seem to realize that compassion attracts people and criticism and negativity repel people. I may not be able to do anything about changing this directly. It makes no difference to what political party we may belong. If we do not have a system that is based on compassion, we will have a system that will fail us. Any good institution first realizes the importance of creating a sense of compassion and trust. This giving of compassion cannot be based on money. It first must be based on the absolute principle of Love. A government or an institution or a religion must first have this golden principle as a solid foundation for any laws, decrees or regulations. "With Liberty and Justice for All." "Do unto others as you want others to do unto you." "Love one another." "God is Love." When the weakest members of a society are neglected the whole society will eventually fall. Our whole American Revolution started because the weaker members were taxed without representation. Most revolutions began because the weakest members were neglected. The Civil War happened because the weakest members were kept in slavery.

We can find many financial and 'logical reasons' to neglect the weak members of society. We can attribute to those less fortunate or less successful the qualities of being lazy, unhealthy, or irresponsible. When we do this, we really neglect any awareness of what other people suffer in life. I will never forget the time when a wealthy acquaintance suggested to me that I take a trip like he does. He had no idea that I would never be able to afford a trip like that. He just assumed I would be able to do this. He was sincere in his suggestion but totally unaware of what my life was like.

It is easy to become weary today when we see all the political tension that is happening. There is such anger and hatred being poured out. On one side of the aisle we see people disappointed and hurt and striking out with very hateful and critical words. On the other side of the aisle we see people with such a fear of looking at the gray in life and understanding that government is here to help the needs of all the people. Yet these same people can be very sincere and caring in their attitudes. Both sides have inner fears that are not expressed. Both are afraid to go deeper within them to see what is really going on.

No government will continue when the majority of its money is invested in defense. No government will continue when fear dominates the landscape.

I am impressed by some of these budding mega churches. People seem to be attracted to them because they are so welcomed. Most of the institutional churches probably started out this way but then rules and regulations for memberships and a fixed way of worship got in the way of staying with the basic principle of compassion and love for all. Our government started out with the basic principle of love and compassion for all. Yet like most institutions and most religions the need for rules, organization and requirements for membership became so regulated that the original spirit became stifled and almost muzzled.

There is one basic principle that all of us need: To show Love and compassion toward everyone. This must dominate every rule and regulation in politics and life. It should dominate every religion and it should dominate every government. When leaders of governments and leaders of institutions forget this fundamental principle of life, we all suffer.

So start with you own family and your own friends. Give up the intellectual discussions of what should be and first start with the concrete actions of showing love and compassion to everyone by your kind words and actions. If I realize that you care for me I will want to be with you and I might be able to listen better to your viewpoint and how you see things.

All news media need to do the same thing. All public institutions need to first start with compassion and love. But let's be honest. None of this will happen if I keep applying these principles to you. I must first apply these principles to myself totally and live my life in a loving and compassionate way toward everyone. Compassion must fill all of politics and all of life. So let's get started.

"We must decide, instead, to take care of each other-because, but for the grace of God, we will all one day wake up in need of a little mercy. This nation's character has never been defined by the power we give the already strong-but by the strength we give the weak." Joseph Kennedy III, congressman.

In the midst of politics, differences and conversations it is easy to let ideas, rules, and money get in the way of compassion. When those at the top become more concerned about those at the bottom a country will be better off. This is so true with every government, every religion and every family.

When a country becomes selective about who gets health insurance and who deserve more health care than others, that country will be in negative emotional stress. It really becomes a denial of how our country came to be.

We live in an atmosphere now of "what's in it for us." But this "us" seems to be those who are quite comfortable financially. Those who are not very comfortable financially seem to be looked down upon.

Compassion is needed. Courage is needed. The day of courageous compassion towards all is very necessary at this time in history.


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage & family therapist and psychotherapist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan. He is also on staff at Capuchin Retreat Center in Washington, MI. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is

Published: Tue, May 09, 2017