Intelligence and compassion are not two separate things

What is the point of intelligence if it doesn’t make somebody’s life better or more enriched?

So much of what we think of as “intelligence” is misused. Misused so that we can hurt other people. So that we can feel better than other people, as we deem them less “intelligent.” So that we can manipulate things to our liking in spite of the fact that the way we think we like things may not be the best way.

Too often, “intelligence” gets a free pass to continue existing unchallenged simply because it is impressive to contemplate – despite the fact that a lot of this “intelligence” is actually very harmful and destructive, and urgently needs to be challenged.

Think about this: Why should we separate intelligence from compassion? What is the reason? So that we don’t let our emotions cloud our judgement? I understand this line of thinking, but I think we should go a step further and envision intelligence that harmoniously combines clarity in thought with the desire and compassion that motivates and informs it.

And, on the other side of the coin, the best compassion is intelligent compassion. For example, which is a more compassionate act – giving a heroin addict more heroin in order to temporarily quell his/her crazy cravings, or saying no and bringing the same heroin addict to a safe treatment place where they can get help? I’d say that compassion never truly reaches its full potential unless there is intelligence involved.

The thread that ties intelligence and compassion together is listening. Think about this: good intelligence necessarily involves good listening and understanding (the Latin word for the verb “to understand” is intellegere). But true compassion also is best felt as compassion when it is not applied in a cookie-cutter fashion – when there is real listening involved, and the compassion takes into account what a person’s situation and needs really are, rather than what they appear to be on the surface.

I refuse any longer to accept as “intelligence” that which is not on some level compassionate, helping, nurturing, or healing in some way. You should refuse to accept anything less yourself.

This entry was posted in Beliefs and worldview, Debate!, Making connection, Short posts and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Intelligence and compassion are not two separate things

  1. junk mail says:

    They are two separate things but are intertwined.

    Compassion without intelligence is useless; Intelligence without compassion is dangerous.


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