Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Final Report Installment 1 
Section 9 
Dr. Oliver 
Nathan Stickles 

The essay that I chose is titled: The Quality of Mercy, and it brings to mind situational examples that represent choices that individuals have made that were horrific in some way or another, and yet those individuals were shown mercy in some way, shape, or form. While they do not even try to cover all the examples of this theme that have happened over the history of mankind, I thought that they covered a pretty wide range that seeks to acknowledge different areas of this top.

The first example that they looked at was of a terrorist attack on a commercial airplane in Scotland in the 1980's. The individual responsible was Abdel Basset Ali Al-megrahi, and he was released from prison after serving only seven years of his lifetime sentence because he was told of a terminal illness, and that he only had a few months to live.  The authorities wanted him to be with his family for his remaining time alive. Why was this grace given to him?

The second example that was used in the essay was that of Michael Vic - quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles - when he was convicted of heading up official illegal dog fights whose losers were tortured, and killed. They noted that Micheal Vic was sorry for what he did and after his sentence in prison, he worked in animal shelters, and he tried to make a difference. The NFL decided to let him come back and play football. Why did they make this decision?

The third example was Lieutenant William Calley who was in charge of the platoon that viciously murdered men, women and children whilst under orders to burn a village to the ground during the Vietnam War. President Richard Nixon ordered him be released from prison, and allowed to continue the rest of his time in house arrest with a female companion, and with a personal staff to assist him. The essay quoted Calley saying that not a day goes by that he does not feel sorry for the deaths of all those people, but should he have been given that mercy?

The thought of the essay was that of mercy, and when it should be exercised. We usually thing about mercy with grace, and grace with mercy, but what are grace and mercy? When you think about grace you are thinking about getting what you don't deserve, and when you think about mercy you are thinking about not getting the consequences that you do deserve. So when do you deserve mercy? Do you have to do something like apologize for what you did, and no matter how bad it was you should get mercy like in case of Michael Vic? Should we just look at the crime that the person did, and somehow chose what crime should be given mercy, and which crimes should be punished for good? Who would be in charge of installing a standard of crime level, and wouldn't that just be changing the law? If it were just implied that you were supposed to give mercy to anyone/everyone who committed a crime in our world, then there would be no law and you would get right back to where you started. 

It is hard to think about this in regards to the law. Which actions should be punished and which rules can be bent is a question that every society has to set up within themselves, and even then you always have  exceptions to the rules. For example: when people make decisions like Richard Nixon in the case of Lieutenant William Calley to reduce the consequences of something as atrocious as killings innocent women and children. One way to put mercy in perspective, I believe, is to look at the only individual that has the basis to give mercy. You have to think about the greatest mercy that was ever bestowed in the act of Jesus Christ's death on the cross.  If you look at the idea of mercy form this angle, then you realize that no one on this earth is truly deserving of mercy, and if you as a person decide to bestow mercy on an individual in a certain situation, then that decision is ultimately up to you as a gift. Not only is the decision to bestow mercy as a gift up to the individual, but the consequences of that gift must also be up to that individual in that if the gift of mercy is mistakenly given to an individual, then it is no one else's fault then other than the one who gave the mercy who is responsible because it was their choice. 

I think what this whole thing boils down to is the fact that no one deserves mercy, with or without having committed a crime. In the example of the terrorist that attacked a passenger plane in Scotland who was released because of his illness, the gift of mercy was placed into the hands of the Justice Minister who decided to give it to the terrorist because it was his gift to give, and he felt compassion. That decision to let the man go was his decision, and if that same man were to go back to killing innocent civilians then I believe the blood of those people would be partially on the Justice Minister's hands because against his better judgement the killer was not punished in a different way. 

In the same way, the Philadelphia Eagles football team possessed the gift of mercy to allow Michael Vic to continue to play for the team, and it was there choice whether or not to give him that chance. If they allowed him, and then he turned right back around and continued to ruin the name of the team, it would be their own fault for letting him come back to the team and continue to play. 

And lastly for the example of Lieutenant William Calley who was pardoned by Richard Nixon. I am certain that the eyes of the families that were scarred by his actions in Vietnam, he did not deserve mercy, so why then did he receive mercy? Well, because the gift of mercy was not placed into their hands, but in the hands of the president who decided to give mercy to the lieutenant. 

So what would you have done in the situation of Michael Vic? What about the lieutenant in Vietnam, or the terrorist who was dying? If mercy is truly a gift to give and no one truly deserves mercy, how would you have approached these situations? Do you think that some people deserve mercy? The choice is up to you, and the strength to give mercy comes from the realization that you have been given the greatest mercy through the Cross of Jesus when he saved us from the ultimate punishment. The choice is yours, how will you make it? 

1 comment:

  1. "the only individual that has the basis to give mercy. You have to think about the greatest mercy that was ever bestowed in the act of Jesus Christ's death on the cross. If you look at the idea of mercy form this angle, then you realize that no one on this earth is truly deserving of mercy" - isn't it the point of allegedly-divine mercy that it sets a standard of forgivenness for all humans to emulate and aspire to? And aren't some, by virtue of contrition and regret, more eligible to receive and benefit from forgivenness? Unless we value retribution for its own sake, shouldn't we be trying to encourage contrition by rewarding the contrite?

    And shouldn't we seek clarity on this question by avoiding specific doctrinal assumptions as to the source of mercy as divine? If the choice truly is ours, individually, and given that a great many humans do not subscribe to the Christian version of mercy and forgivenness, shouldn't our focus be on the broadly human assumptions and implications of this practice?