A bit of exchange between myself and laurainman got me thinking.
The difference "what people could be" and "what humans are" explains a lot of failure of philosophy. Communism for example. Give to the state in accordance with your ability, and take from the state in accordance with your need, but greed takes over and there is nothing left. This is similar to some of our native Indians today in Canada, but I digress.
People could be much more compassionate, but with the present greed culture, compassion is not a characteristic of the self sustaining person. The compassionate are overrun, and used, until they are poor or wise up. Just try being a landlord, and here the whining about the rent, the hardships, and they live in a bigger, nicer place than I would afford myself. My needs are simple. Compassion is a nice characteristic, but just not practical in so many places.
I had an old buddy that owned a sawmill. He always need labor on the green chain, cleaners, stackers, etc. Low skill, outside work, live in the dry camp, room and board. Anyone begging he told they could have a job if they wanted, all they need to do was show up for the company buss at the weekly shift change. He said he never had one show up in twenty years of offering. Compassion yes but they need to make an effort first.
Compassionate is a virtue that is easy to over do. My mother and sister would do anything for anyone, as long as they were not family. Oh well. Mother died alone and my sister and I exchange perhaps 4 short emails a year. The Buddhist push compassion, and I thing it is a great virtue where no one has much anyway, but it can get out of hand. I need to be able to survive for perhaps 25-30 years on savings after retirement, so compassion only goes so far when I see waste and lack of effort. Compassion for those who need it is a different issue.
Now consider the Religious Wars of the middle east. Religions in general are irrational, but some more so. Would I reach out to anyone who is possible dangerous? Not likely. Children and family's who are willing to give up their religion are worthy of help, anyone else is for other to help. It must be something that I am comfortable with. If not, it has nothing to do with me. We must realize that religion is the cause of the war, all religions.
The other issue is control of people and dictatorship of ideas. If they do not agree with my ideas, they can believe what ever foolishness they wish. I will not have a dog in that race. What people could be is an idea, but when we consider what they actually are, it is a different story. We live in a community that has become a group of individuals, not a society in the old sense, where everybody knew everybody. Transportation and communications have changed all that. We have not yet worked out how to live in this new reality. We see the results of local overpopulation, either economic, food supply, water, energy or political/religious where a group of people are pushed out to fend for themselves, elsewhere. Some chose to leave on their own, aka refugees. It is still overpopulation, and we, here are already overpopulated.
It is my prediction that I may live to see the next major die off humans, in evolutionary terms. (say the next 25 years). The population if no die off occurs will need to address the rate of growth soon, else difficulties will be more common. In twenty five years, the population will double. Can you live with double the population? Can the middle east or Germany? Africa? China is not a problem, they addresses the issue with one child policy. India?
How does compassion fit in with a major die off? Well we all go down or will we save ourselves? We can see this coming, for those who do not act, how much compassion should I show?
But what do I know?