Institutionalized Compassion

In our busy world compassion is an easy thing to avoid. Even if you are the person who openly admits you don’t care about certain things you can still gain perspective.

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Why not make laws that help institutionalize this basic human emotion? If on an individual basis we get to choose to volunteer our time and money to a cause we deem worthy why not protect against bias by providing a basic level of income for people? Or providing a basic level of healthcare? Even more though provoking, a basic level of mental health care?


It will never disappear from the world. It doesn’t matter how much we pray, how much technology we develop, or if we learn to manipulate our biologies. It’s a bleak and beautiful universe out there but the farther you look in time the bleaker it gets. Furthermore, humans are not masters of our destiny. We have the hottest year on record, weirdest weather I have ever seen, and Australia is being burned alive. Humans are very far from being able to end suffering.

Raise the average

“However” should be a synonym for hope. Globally the least amount of people in human history are dying and we are advancing technology at a rapid pace.

The economic engines of the world drive this change. America’s legacy so far has been the development of the ideologies and technologies that got us here. Great stories, myths and institutions that bind collective thought are the traits that makes us Homo Sapiens. Raising the condition of the average is synonymous with human progress and should be used to measure how we are doing.

Leverage Human traits

Stereotypes and racism are uniquely human traits. So is love, empathy, understanding, struggle. Do you see the trend? Humans have incredible behavioral capacity. I heard a friend say once “People are constantly capable and currently doing terrible and wonderful things to each other.”

You can say what you want about any individual but together our traits converge into two. Adaptability and diversity. You leverage human traits through more humans and raising their living standards. In the 1970’s we got Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

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While just a simple model the point is that people need basic needs to thrive and fulfill their potential.

What is an Institution?

Institutions are uniquely human. They come from our incredible behavioral capacity as a species and instinct that stability is key to thriving.

While institutions can be negative they are revered as good, sane, and safe.

The final key feature of institutions is that they reinforce consistent human behavior. While no institution is perfect if they mostly represent good they are powerful catalysts for human progress.

Institutionalized Compassion

A flaw of the free market is that it out prices even basic needs. When it comes to an iPhone who cares if you want an iPhone X but can only afford a used 6. That is a luxury, plain and simple. But when it comes to a place to live, water and food there will simply be people that are priced out.

That is unacceptable.

Institutionalized compassion could look like many things. It could be a Universal Basic Income so basics are met. It could be a free level of healthcare. It could be professional well paid staff at homeless shelters. You could redo the education system to focus on skills of the future.

While institutionalized compassion could look like many things it should be measured by only one. How much and how fast does it raise the average. It’s critical that ideas, resources, and time have a capitalistic measure of success. Since is illogical to be perfect we should execute on ideas, measure their success and repeat. This will become easier and easier as tech and machine learning advance to assist us in such a daunting task.

Finally, this all may feel like a plan but what can you do to help raise the average and contribute to Institutionalize compassion? Here are some closing thoughts

  • Stop thought process that induce apathy
  • If you can give money to an institution you think embodies your values then do so
  • Stay mindful about how good you have it
  • Learn how to confront people that consistently displaying a negative human trait.

Written by

I contribute to the start-up grind in Seattle as an iOS Engineer. I also used to fly airplanes.

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