There are two aspects of mercy:
- How do I deal with someone I feel has wronged me and deserves a comeuppance?
- How do I deal with the suffering of innocent people?
Mercy can be charitable, compassionate, forgiving, gracious, and humane. It can also be condoning or indulgent.
Is it always wise to be merciful? Should I show mercy to the person who commits an atrocity in the name of some selfish, or political, or religious belief? Should I give all that I have to the poor? Would that not be foolish?
Look at the qualities opposite to mercy: cruelty, hardness of heart, hate.
A popular song, circa 1966 shed light on this:
“… if only fools are kind, Alfie
Then I guess it is wise to be cruel…”
If we agree that cruelty is never okay, we still need to find ways to show mercy informed by wisdom. That requires a view of life larger than what we see through the microscope of our personal, daily concerns.
At a thanksgiving dinner, many years ago, my Dad said “Grace”, including this thought: “The greatest miracle is that we are here at all.” Let that appreciation of life inform how we choose to live and let live. As the Bible says, (John 1. 4:12): “No one has ever seen God. But if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us”.