Compassion comes from a limitless well and we don’t have to dole it out sparingly. As a matter of fact, compassion is most called for in circumstances that try patience.
I think specifically of the Cleveland Five, mostly overgrown kids, young men who were part of the Occupy Cleveland movement. The FBI people came up with a plot to blow up a bridge, resources to do the plot, approached these young men with the idea, and encouraged and coaxed them to do it.
The five were among the most irresponsible of the bunch of activists—immature, some troubled. At least one of them had been to prison before.
But they are lovable despite all this, to me, at any rate. I’ve been through troubled times, and I think many excellent people have had these times, and it’s just something one gets over with time. These kids had an adolescent, creative spirit. I think of one of them and how he dressed, River Phoenix good looks, purposefully torn jeans. These kids wanted to be part of something larger than themselves.
The fact that they were caught up in a good movement was great (Occupy Cleveland operates according to principles of nonviolence), but unfortunately in Cleveland they were victimized by someone working on trying to discredit the movement.
The Cleveland Five had ideals despite falling for the plot. They thought outside of their own needs much of the time. They actually participated immensely in the maintenance of the info tent downtown. It was physically and mentally hard because one would not really know if another person was going to come for relief. Also, cold during the winter. Heck, they were out there all winter for lengthy periods of time, a lot of them!
They helped feed the homeless and they also made Public Square safer. Crime went down in the square when the movement was there. And these young men were a part of the movement.
I felt that due to their immaturity, remnants of adolescent anger and bravado, they were more susceptible to the person who was working for the FBI. The FBI person came up with the plot and supplied the means. Without him doing that, the young men would’ve not done anything like what they are being punished for.
It was unfair. It was like creating a virtual reality environment in which no harm can be done (because the explosives were set up to not work) and luring susceptible people in, but then punishing them for real as though they’d masterminded the situation.
Another analogy: it’s like those FBI people were drug pushers going around a junior high school tempting students. In that case, the law might penalize the drug pushers rather than the junior high school students who fall for the drugs. The students might get counseling whereas the pusher might go to jail.
In my opinion the proper course of action is for the young men to go to psychiatric hospitals for a year or so and then be released. And for the FBI to be investigated by Congress and/or its own internal quality control mechanisms such that it stops entrapping people! Entrapment like what the FBI did = causing bad situations. Entrapment does not equal solving problems. Entrapment only equals causing problems.