A beautiful lion was killed in Zimbabwe by a rich American, who paid $55,000 to do so. There has been a great deal of outrage about this. There has been a great deal of compassion expressed toward a rare and beautiful animal who was killed just so that a human being could use his power to kill and dominate.

There have also been people upset by how much compassion and outrage have been spent on this one lion in contrast to relatively less so about violence and racism in our own country especially toward African Americans.

I was upset by all of these events, quite frankly. I actually saw them as being part of the same problem, the problem of using might to make right, the corrupting power of excessive power, and domination for domination sake as it happens at all levels of culture.

I understand why people are angry that violence against oppressed groups of humans is not creating similar outrage. I do wonder, however, if in giving people negative feedback for expressing righteous indignation and compassion is somehow discouraging compassionate action in general.

If I were in a crowd of people and saw a small child in front of me fall down, I would express sympathy and try to help, if needed. I would not scan the crowd to see if there were a person or situation more deserving of kindness and compassion. And I don’t think that by exercising a small act of compassion on perhaps a lesser problem, that I would somehow run out of compassion. I also wonder if these small gestures, to address small problems right in front of our eyes, right now, and with swift action, may buffer in some way against the passivity and inaction that can result with being overwhelmed by the enormity of the BIG PROBLEMS.

I find that acts compassion, offered in the moment, can add a bit of fuel to my emotional gas tank rather than depleting me. There are a lot of messages out there that treat compassion as a rare, easily depleted commodity. Even in the breast cancer community, there is a sense of having to have the worst case situation in order to exercise compassion toward oneself. Meanwhile, we invalidate ourselves and others over and over, like there is no limit.

Compassion doesn’t have to be a big game.