MERCY IS NOT MERELY FEELING SYMPATHY. Mercy is extended by one who has the power to condemn or punish but chooses not to. We choose not to criticize, not to say, “I told you so,” not to exact our “pound of flesh” – not to avenge. As Jesus shows us in his interaction with the woman caught in adultery, mercy does not look back at what the person has done but forward to what the person can do in the future.
– Mary Lou Redding
The Power of a Focused Heart: 8 Life Lessons from the Beatitudes
The temptation to exercise that power to punish or condemn is so real in personal relations with those whom have wronged us or simply in our view is wrong. The whole debate on who’s on the right or on the wrong will never end. And whenever possible a particular judgment or position must be made, but that doesn’t stop us from extending mercy.
Recently, as I was asked to step in to help in a conflict situation in a official and organic capacity. This was foremost in my mind, how does one make sure justice and what is right is upheld and yet at the back of my mind recognize that fragile human beings are involved in this. It’s too easy to reduce the “other” or “another” in black and white terms when often it’s not the case, even if what has been done is clearly out of line.
Being conscious of the need to extend mercy at least on a personal level keeps me sane even when on a public official level one needs to operate in a way which seems at first not that merciful.