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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

(Liberal) Read Of The Day

Good idea. You all know that my greatest sympathies with something resembling liberalism are in the area of prison/justice reform. I do not believe that anyone is simply a product of his environment, but neither do I believe it has no impact. Liberalism's failure in the US is directly related to the belief that people are inclined to the good. We are not; we are good with respect to our original design, and the end for which we are made. But, by virtue of those things, we have a dignity that ought not be thrown aside. In fact, for us to employ people whose sole function is to enforce the degradation of that dignity is itself a degradation of their dignity.

In theology or politics, it comes back to what we mean by "mercy." Mercy is not the forbearance of evil; it is rather the plain confession that a particular evil and its effects are not the end of a person's story. They really aren't meant to wallow in regret and self-hatred. "Go and sin no more" is exactly mercy, because it doesn't say that the sin wasn't sin, but it doesn't say that you or I are permanently defined by whatever it was. Mercy calls upward to God, to his better and higher plans, better than those devised by our foolish whims.

Our society hates mercy, and it hates it in two ways. Firstly, we love to destroy people. If you mess up, or you're just ubiquitous and kind of annoying, you do not exist as a person. Kim Kardashian. Justin Bieber. Jeffery Dahmer. Those aren't people, right? We've classified them. They are what they are, and we do not allow them to be anything else. The idea that they might be actual people with feelings and needs is a bridge too far. In the first two cases, we think, "They have money, and such an easy life--more than I have--so they don't deserve friendship or sympathy." You have a friend, and his name is Envy.

In the latter case, I grant you, mercy is not easy. That guy killed and ate people. You can't get worse than that. I was talking to a friend in college, recounting that Dahmer received Christian baptism before he was murdered in prison. He told me that if that man walked away forgiven, he wanted no part of God. Sit and think about that. I suggest that he could spend some time reflecting on his own trespasses. If hell is real, I would hope my worst enemy finds the mercy and pardon to avoid it. It has terrors far worse than anything we can dish out. And yet, we try our best to dish out the outrage whenever possible.

The reason is the same as the other reason we hate mercy: it shows us that we are guilty. That's the only reason we heap scorn on young misguided Canadian pop stars, and treat sex offenders like lepers, at best. We're the same people who design "family" TV channels that are nothing more than porn for teenagers. We're guilty, and we know it. Someone has to take the guilt. Better to project than admit we are the problem.


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