Monday, September 7, 2009

Compassion & Mercy

The rights and wrongs of any particular decision, the true nature of guilt or innocence, are essentially irrelevant. This is not a specific comment about guilty train robbers or possibly innocent Libyans. Rather, it speaks to those rarely heard words, 'compassion' and 'mercy.

Some victims bemoan compassion for those who trashed their lives, and it is a view that is only reasonable. But what is unreasonable is any complaint that so-and-so does "not deserve" compassionate treatment.

This is to misunderstand the nature of both compassion and mercy. They are unearned and undeserved; they do not follow from the qualities of the condemned or his crimes. They flow from the humanity of those that exercise power over us. When we forget this, and when we condemn the rare outbursts of humanity from our rulers, then the poorer our civilisation.

1 comment:

  1. Some people might find lectures on compassion and mercy from a convicted murderer hard to take, but, hell - St Paul did a good job of rebranding, so good luck to ya!