Justice Versus Mercy
- King Lear
The struggle to live a life that balances justice and mercy dates back to the beginning of human civilization. Ever since we developed the ability to document our thoughts and ideas, we have written about the need to make people pay for their actions, or grant them forgiveness for their mistakes. Although both are essential to human civilization, I will make the point in this essay that mercy must take precedence over justice if we wish to prosper. Shakespeare, as befits his reputation, gives us a grand canvass where all decisions of justice and mercy are inflated in their importance and visibility. King Lear must wield power to make his kingdom work, thus he dispense justice, but do so justly. Mercy is only a personal concern in King Lear, lying beyond the normal requirements of his duties as King. However, in the end it is mercy that brings grace to King Lear, restoring his relationship with Cordelia.
Many evil acts are committed because people are drawn towards what feels right, as opposed to what is just and defendable. Entire populations can easily be persuaded that an injustice is just through the masterful use of fear and propaganda. As Canadians we have in turn supported; slavery, denial of voting rights, the destruction of first nations cultures, internment of Ukrainians and Japanese, and the Chinese head tax amongst other heinous acts. If you take the time to read the justifications given at the time, you cannot help but believe that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
These tactics are still disturbingly prevalent in today's society, visible in the American GOP race, to use a current example. The primary process the candidates must work within forces all the candidates to focus on non-political topics in a desperate attempt to win over the feelings of core Republican voters, who don't necessarily represent the majority American value system. The longer the primaries go on, the...
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