Rules are rules! Well, not always

Compassion I have come to realise is the ingredient missing in many of the decisions and actions of those in authority – A lack of it leads to a blinkered and robotic implementations of rules, just because they are ‘the’ rules. So we have the situation where, whilst critical of China’s record on human rights, and at the same supporting Ai Wei Wei for his freedom to be able to express himself in art, his application for a 6 month visa to visit the UK for an exhibition of his work is refused because ‘the rules’ say that if you have a criminal record such an application is automatically refused. Luckily the Home Secretary saw through this ridiculous decision and has allowed the visa. Where is the compassion for this man, who has suffered, whose work some hail as art and whose persecution for it we abhor?
And we have the rule that if you bring illegal immigrants into the country you are fined. So, when lorry and coach drivers, having been cleared at Calais, arrive in England to discover they have been boarded unknowingly by illegal immigrants contact the authorities to report them and to hand them over, they are fined thousands of pounds because that is the rule! Where is the reward for honesty? Where is the compassion that says thank you and you are implementing the rule which is there to prevent illegal immigration.
Any rule, or any action, which prevents us seeing someone as someone – not just as a person – is the beginning of a slippery slope that allows de-humanised decisions to be applied to those most in need of compassion. Compassion is the first step in seeing the someone and doing what we can to help.
A society built on compassion is the society at peace with itself.

John Belfield
Kings Lynn Catholics

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