Part of life consists of what Plato noticed: underlying patterns that manifest no matter how much we try to control them. All things run in cycles, for starters, and those cycles are composed of what seem like opposites but in fact are forces keeping each other in balance.
For example, Plato points out that life inevitably leads to death which leads to life and restarts the cycle. A tree grows, dies, decomposes, and from it emerges a microsystem that gives rise to the forest life needed to support more trees.
In the same way, despite the bloviating about compassion and empathy that seems popular these days, few people will acknowledge the obvious: caring for others leads to a totalitarian mindset, and from that, we get back to acceptance of individual freedoms, liberty, and so on in a limited sense.
Those who wish to dodge this knowledge prefer to talk about “freedom” as a goal. In their view, it is most compassionate and empathetic to simply have no standards and let everyone do whatever they want, even when knowing that most people are incompetent to make most of those decisions.
In other words, like abusive parents, we set them up to fail.
A patient gardener on the other hand knows that plants do not need tolerance, inclusion, and altruism; they need to be treated like individuals, which means acceptance. The original ideas of Christ and Buddha were in part related to this, meaning that the world is only what it is, and its people are the same way.
If you run across a heroin addict on a street corner, you can tolerate him and let him continue to abuse heroin, or you can try to force him to do something more productive. Those are your two extremes; the middle path is to simply accept him, which is as much psychic as it is physical.
When you walk past a heroin addict and nod without judgment, you have told him that you are fine with his self-destruction because you do not care. When you try to force him to do something more productive, you are obviously acting for your benefit, not his.
However, if you and the boys in brown show up and load him at gunpoint into a truck, drive him to a remote tent city, and tell him he cannot leave until he gets himself clean, you have told him that you care about having social order and are willing to let him participate if he meets you halfway.
Raging misanthropes tend to hide themselves behind tolerance, inclusion, and altruism. They like laughing at the person on heroin or anyone with less than themselves. They like to look down on these people, call them untermenschen, maybe give them a pittance to remind them how poor they are.
Realists like the idea of natural selection. We would decriminalize all drugs so that the heroin addict can get his fixes for pennies a day. This takes the burden of his future from Society™ and returns it to him. Shoot as much heroin as you want; if you overdose, we will drag your carcass to the dump.
However, what we are not doing is lying to you. We accept you as you are and let you pursue your destiny. We think it leads to death in most cases, but maybe that is not you; either way, judgment is left up to God/gods and nature and not imposed upon you.
What most people need is care. They need wisdom to be passed on in the form of rules about basic behaviors and a functional social order that reduces their cost of living, thereby maximizing their free time to spend with family, friends, culture, nature, hobbies, and faith.
Compassion can be acted upon at either the cause (ends) or effect (means) level. That is, you can be compassionate to someone by being tolerant and accepting the effect, or you can have compassion at the cause and set up the best system for everyone, knowing that some will perish and some thrive.
We can see this question play out in the cases of drug abusers or overeaters. Method compassion would involve accepting them and allowing them to continue the behavior; control would involve modifying the behavior; goal compassion would not subsidize the behavior, but accept them as people.
Like nature, goal compassion allows them to survive if they can, but gives them no help in their current method of doing so while not demanding they change. Similarly with heroin users, we might decriminalize heroin, but not give them any state aid to make the addiction process easier.
The only compassion possible consists of setting up life so that it is consistent, sane, and rewards the good. This means in many cases allowing people to fail so that they can lift themselves up again. Until we do this, we keep them in a permanent state of childlike codependency with authority.
It seems compassionate to want to save people from the consequences of their own actions, but in reality all this does is spread the pain around, which encourages the miserable to act out in order to burden others with their own disasters.
When we localize failure to those who are actually failing and leave everyone else alone, we achieve the most compassionate state: those who do good experience good lives, those who do bad suffer, and those in the middle are given space, time, and enough wealth to figure themselves out.
Whenever someone trots out “compassion,” they almost invariably mean spreading the pain around, which applies pressure through wealth and power redistribution to everyone, making their positions unstable and therefore, encouraging retaliation.
In my view, the most compassionate society does everything it can to reduce costs. The rich get richer; they do that anyway. The poor live decent lives. Everyone above the poverty level increases wealth which eventually causes them to stop fixating on it and trying to develop actual souls.
Within the last few centuries, in the name of compassion our societies have gone from places where an uncomplicated decent life was possible to areas where normal life is impossible because we are constantly suffering under the manic drive for “compassion.”