The Problem of Misapplied "Mercy"


You know, for a society that claims to be so tolerant and open, we sure have a funny way of showing it!

It seems like I’m seeing reasons why we need mercy, compassion, and forgiveness everywhere. Over the long weekend, the internet exploded over the death of a gorilla. Suddenly, everyone becomes an expert in parenting and handling gorillas.

I don’t deny the fact that there could have been ways to prevent all this from happen, but as things stand right now, I feel a lot better that the child is okay. I feel sad that the gorilla died, but all the chatter I’ve been seeing on Twitter is reminding me of something George Orwell said in: “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

*sarcasm mode* Oh brave new world that has such people in it. *end sarcasm mode*

It’s hard for me to understand what people are saying sometimes. It’s hard for me to understand people in general. And yet, for the most part I want to give the benefit of the doubt. There are very few exceptions to the rule (*coughDRUMPFcough*), but I can’t help but feel like Alice stuck in a nonsensical wonderland.

Have we forgotten that all people are created equal? Equality doesn’t mean sameness. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of the happiness don’t give us free license to do whatever we want at the expense of everyone else. We all have the capacity to lose a child in the mall or at the zoo. We have to allow parents to make mistakes and not judge them for slipping up because, guess what, we all make mistakes. Why do we always say that “Only God can judge” when it comes to the LGBT+ movement and everything that comes with it but not allow that same tolerance to parents when they take time to go out on dates or when they make a mistake?

This lack of mercy also applies to those who are conservative as well. I wish that people could be more open-minded about the situation with all the Middle East refugees. I want both Christian and Muslim refugee families to be in a safe place. My heart broke more over the death of the 400 refugees who drowned in April rather than the death of one gorilla because humans, as far as I’m concerned, are created a little lower than the angels and higher than the animals.

I’m not saying that I’m above all this. When I saw the internet exploding over the various newspieces in the zietgeist, I wanted to weep for humanity. I assumed that the situation was preventable.

That’s the thing about assuming, though. As the saying goes: Assuming makes an ass out of you and me!

Why do we misapply mercy and not understand what it really means to be merciful, forgiving, and compassionate towards others?

It’s because we don’t really know what we can control.

Simcha Fischer said this brilliantly in another response to the current zeitgeist:

You never will be completely in control, and if you don’t make yourself accept this fact, then you are perfectly primed to snatch control anyway by unmaking another human being. And when you do it, you will not be stronger. You will not be in charge. You will just become fodder for that insatiable mouth who first told you that damnable lie — the lie that you can be in control.

This is why I’m not an existentialist. Existentialism is selling that lie that we are in control of what our lives mean because the universe is indifferent to us. The fact of the matter is, there is something higher than us, offering us a second chance at a constant basis. This mercy is given to everyone. Even Donald Drumpf. It’s not something we are entitled to. It’s a gift given from unconditional love and it’s not something that any of us deserve.

When we are given a second chance, we are called to pay it forward by being merciful, compassionate, and forgiving towards someone else. It doesn’t mean forgetting what happened in the past. It doesn’t mean allowing dangerous things or people back into your life. It can be something as simple as giving a mother the benefit of the doubt and hoping that the child and his family will get out of all the media speculation soon. It can be something as big as allowing a refugee into your home, even if it just means advocating for their asylum in our country.

People always talk about tolerance as a form of compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. They keep using that word, but I don’t think it means what they think it means. I wish people could understand what compassion, forgiveness, and mercy really mean and what these things demand from us.

For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Jesus, Divine Mercy, I trust in You.

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