Let’s face it, compassion is hard. Mirriam-Webster defines compassion as “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” One naturally feels compassion for obvious victims — a child who is killed by an assassin’s bullet, sporting event participants being indiscriminately mowed down by an angry foreigner or poor people who are marginalized by greedy corporate interests. But what about the perpetrators? Do you ever feel any sympathy for them? If you’re like most people, probably not. After all, they’re hateful, depraved individuals who carry out horrible acts of violence and injustice. It takes an objective, godlike view from way above to begin to have compassion for those who do harm to others. Or, at the very least, it takes an insatiable curiosity about what drove them to their behavior, and a desire to do something that stops hate and violence at its source.
Amanda Palmer is no stranger to controversy. She obviously has no interest in living a safe, non-confrontational life. In my opinion, that’s the very definition of an artist. From early on in her career, she engaged in what might be considered risky behavior, such as standing on a box in the middle of Harvard Square in a bride’s dress, handing out flowers. Years later, she wrote “A Poem for Dzhokhar,” a contemplation about one of the Boston marathon bombers. She was hacked. She was threatened. It didn’t go well. And why? Because she had a highly unpopular take on those tragic events in 2013. Amidst all of the grief and anger, Amanda wondered what might have caused Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to do what he did.
In her latest artistic offering, a beautiful cover of Pink Floyd’s song “Mother” (from their epic album The Wall), Amanda is joined with a cast of gifted musicians and actors. The video is powerful and poignant, with her eagle eye focused like a laser on our current president and his administration.
Watch the video first, to the very end (that’s important; you’ll see why), and then read her ‘straight up, no bullshit’ Newsweek interview.
Tyrants and murderers aren’t born that way. Something happens to them in their lives to turn them from innocent young children into people whom most of us feel aren’t deserving of our love and compassion. I strongly believe, as does Amanda Palmer, that until you get to the source of an illness, you will never truly rid yourself of the symptoms. Depravity is a disease that is fast overtaking the world we live in. At its core, no doubt, is a lack of proper nurturing, which all plants, animals and especially humans require to live healthy, productive and loving lives. It’s something that a mother innately understands.