Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Honest But Uncomfortable Definitions: Mercy


1-Something everyone loves to receive, but few people enjoy giving. 
2- Refusing to take enjoyment out of the mistakes others make and the punishment they receive.

Imagine for a moment that a news van on the way to cover a story happened upon an act of heroism. Let’s say that they catch on film a car packed with senior adults toppling off a bridge into a river in the middle of winter. As they are calling emergency services for help,  a 6 year old boy jumps into  the icy, frigid waters and one by one drags each of the people to safety on the shore. Not only that, while saving them, he sees and rescues 3 baby seals and a tiny puppy who had also managed to fall into the deadly water.

That would be an incredible story, and would likely be the lead on the nightly news, unless…..

A celebrity, politician, athlete, etc… made a colossally bad decision.

These are the stories we love to see the most, and there is unfortunately a never ending supply of them for us to revel in. Drug abuse, money-grabbing schemes, affairs, physical abuse, and the list goes on and on. We want to hear about the story as soon as it happens, and we want constant updates after that. How quickly did he know? Where did she hide the money? Who else was involved? We want access to all of the gruesome details.

And it’s a toxic way to live.

I hunger deeply for justice, and I despise injustice (especially when I am not at fault – but that’s for another post). I believe that people should answer for their crimes, and reap the consequences of their behavior. It’s healthy to hate injustice. It’s important to seek to bring justice to our world. Enjoying the downfall of others, however, has nothing to do with justice.  Hours after the latest scandal has been unearthed, thousands flock to Facebook and Twitter to weigh in. All are sure the punishment, whatever it will be, will not be enough. The true motives of anyone who does not seem sufficiently enraged are called into question. Drunk driving or physical abuse were just as important hours before the scandal, but few people took time to write anything about them at that time. What’s even more troubling is that after the scandal of the hour passes, people often stop writing and stop thinking about the dangers of abuse and the need for care for it’s victims. Instead, everyone travels forward in a social media mob in search of the next injustice to rail against.

The fight for justice is a never ending battle. It doesn’t stop when it’s no longer “trending”. My plea and my goal is simply to fight for justice but at the same time to love mercy. It’s the combination our world needs the most. 

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