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Phil Rizzo: Don’t look for the word ‘compassion’ in the U.S. Constitution

Full Speed to Port!

Posted: September 22, 2009 10:38 p.m.
Updated: September 23, 2009 4:55 a.m.
One of the people who responded to Buck McKeon’s August telephone town hall, as reported in The Signal, asked the Congressman, “Where in the Constitution does it say I have to be this compassionate and provide people these things?”

It doesn’t.

Compassion is housed and grown in the heart.

If you do not have it, or it is limited in its scope, you are unfortunate. Compassion and love are at the root of all lasting goodness.

The opposite of compassion is conflict, which nurtures division and hate for those who do not mirror us.
At the heart of all religions is compassion.

The disparity between the rich and poor in the United States is growing.

The 2008 Census shows the poverty rate at an 11-year high along with those without medical insurance rising to 46.3 million.
Lack of compassion can feed this gap.

If we as individuals have no regard for our less fortunate fellow Americans, government and private aid to make them more productive may vanish.

If you want to help reduce this gap, contact your representatives in Congress and ask them to vote for medical reform.

A society that lacks compassion will result in the rich and privileged living in gated enclaves leaving, the rest of the population to try to make it on what’s left.

Like some countries in Latin America, poverty will reign, producing crime at a level where no one will be safe.

The Constitution might be interpreted to support compassion in the preamble which refers to the general welfare, but the preamble has never been given the force of law.

It suggests however, an intuitive inclination our forefathers had.

The words I quote are in Article 1, “the Legislative Branch,” and Section 8 of the Constitution, “Powers of Congress.” They state “... the Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes ... and provide for the common defence and general welfare ...”

Providing for the general welfare suggests that the Congress would seem to have great freedom in the course of providing legislation that will benefit all of us.

If your belief system limits compassion to only your family and friends and those who have the same views that you do, that is the path to conflict, and it probably leaves out most Americans.

Compassion is analogous to love. Love is accepting a person or group for what they are.

True love is unconditional.

Without it we are in constant battle with “the other.”

Driven by fear, we react to persons or things outside of our belief system in hostile ways, which usually exacerbate rather than heal or prevent a win-win situation. The fear is generated from a sense of lack.

Some feel that if they help others, they may not have enough for themselves.

Others believe the opposite is true.

If you have a big heart, abundance comes to you.

Americans gave Obama a resounding victory.

He promised change and now that he is providing it, there are those stuck in the mud of reactionary ideology.

They see compassion as a weakness. These reactionaries are unwilling to move forward.

They actually would be more comfortable doing nothing, leaving the country to the wiles of the marketplace and chance, which is what got us into the various messes we are currently in.

Runaway medical costs will bury us.

A report from the Kaiser Foundation states that employer-sponsored health insurance costs for a U.S. family have risen five percent this year to $13,375, while the inflation rate has fallen.

Total premiums have risen 131 percent in the last 10 years compared to 38 percent for wages and 28 percent for overall inflation.

If you have a good medical plan and lack compassion, you may look down on those who don’t have your good fortune as out of luck and of no concern to you.

Would you care for a moment to put yourself in their shoes?

With the current economic downturn, no one’s fate is guaranteed.

The bottom line is we have a choice.

We can see the Constitution as providing justice, freedom and compassion, or we can see it as a guide to dog-eat-dog greed and abandoning our spiritual heritage by embracing fear.

Phil Rizzo is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.


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