This has been brought up a lot recently in my life and it has made me think a lot about whether I am any good at getting this balance right.
Unfortunately I really don’t think I am. I often find myself saying that justice is important and we should all face the consequences of our actions but when it comes to situations where I have been wronged I’m actually most likely to say, ‘that’s okay, it happens, don’t worry about it’ etc. Sometimes though, it’s not okay and it shouldn’t happen. I am often far too merciful because I think it’s the nice thing to do.
I also think I get mercy and forgiveness confused sometimes. I think I’m being forgiving when I just let go of a screw up and don’t get angry or anything but actually, you can forgive someone yet still not trust them in the same area again and allow the lack of trust in that area to be noticed.
Nelson Mandella said the most merciful thing that happened to him was being put in prison, yet we often think that’s not merciful at all. Sometimes when I’ve screwed up it’s the consequences of that screw up, a lost friendship or a lost privelidge etc that helped me to realise how important it was that I didn’t do that thing again. If I hadn’t been made to live through the consequences I’m not sure I’d have learnt that lesson and I’d still be making those mistakes now. In short, if people had just been ‘nice’ and not sought some kind of justice then I’d never have received the mercy of learning and becoming a better person and getting second chances that I am much less likely to muck up.
Mercy and Justice don’t just stop there, however but I’d like to focus on Justice for now (I think we’re already fairly good at being merciful). Justice isn’t a passive word, just like mercy isn’t. Trying to fight for justice is an act. When we see unjust things happening around us, from small things like seeing someone shoplift to the huge things like modern day slavery we are meant to do something about it. If you see someone stealing, at the very least, you should tell a store worker. Doing nothing makes you just as bad as the thief.
All it takes for evil to triumpth, is for good men to do nothing – First film adaptation of ‘War and Peace’
Justice requires us to act when we see something unjust happen or know that it’s happening. We all have a voice in one form or another and should be using it even when we feel that there’s little we can do against such a large injustice we have to act. Changing the world starts with small acts just like I mentioned in my earlier blog here