Understanding Mercy

Mercy: Origin: 1125-1175; Middle English. Compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy or other person in one's power; compassion, pity or benevolence.
Dictionary.com Unabridged | Based on the Random House Dictionary

Synonyms: affection, agape, altruism, amity, attachment, benevolence, benignity, bountifulness, bounty, caritas, clemency, fellow feeling, generosity, goodness, goodwill, grace, humaneness, humanity, indulgence, kindliness, lenity, love, magnanimity, mercy, tenderheartedness.
Antonyms: malevolence, uncharitableness, unkindness.
Thesaurus.com | An Ask.com Service | thesaurus.reference.com

  • Mercy is clemency — forgiveness in judging or punishing.
  • Mercy is pity — compassion for other living things.
  • Mercy is benevolence — an inclination for charitable acts.
  • Mercy is tolerance — undogmatic viewpoints and behaviors.
  • Mercy is leniency — kindness and benevolence.

Benefits of Mercy

  • Mercy provides clarity — of conscience, doing the benevolent thing.
  • Mercy provides faithfulness — to what is right and just with our fellow-man.
  • Mercy provides peace of mind — with the release of bitterness and hostility.
  • Mercy provides opportunity — for self-reflection and self-honesty by extending kindness to humanity.
  • Mercy provides freedom — from resentment and holding negative feelings.

Acts of Mercy in Everyday Life

  • The Bible — The giving of gifts (alms) to the needy is strongly encouraged, and those who do so are promised a full life. (Prov 14:21,31; Isa 58:6-8; Tob 4:5-11; 12:8-11). The Law of Moses commanded the Israelites to set aside a tenth of their harvest for the poor every three years (Deut 14:28,29), and they were to leave some harvested grain out in the fields for the poor to gather (Deut 24:19-22; see also Ruth 2).
  • Charitable Organizations — Even during the time of recession and financial struggles for many, world-wide, many charitable organizations are managing to come up with donations for those in extreme need.
  • President's Right to Pardon — A real-life opportunity for a leader with power to be able to demonstrate clemency for all to see.
  • Positive Parenting — Without losing the integrity of the consequence, showing children that privileges can be earned back and second chances can be given.

Methods for Achieving Mercy

  • Practice Gratitude — By appreciating what one's lot in life is, we can then honestly look at those who are nowhere near as blessed and may be in need of mercy.
  • Be the First to Say "I'm sorry" — Learn to move outside yourself after a disagreement or argument and sincerely look for and acknowledge your part in the situation.
  • Become a Volunteer — Giving to others in need helps us renew our appreciation for what we have.
  • Choose to Donate — Find an organization or society that you support and routinely donate items such as old furnishings, clothes, etc.
  • Develop and Live with Respect — By valuing the humanity in us all, we learn to live with compassion, benevolence and mercy.

Golden Mean

Cruelty, Prejudice
Indulgence, License, Permissiveness

Quotes for Mercy

Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes The throned monarch better than his crown; His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, The attribute to awe and majesty, Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings; But mercy is above this sceptred sway; It is enthroned in the hearts of kings, It is an attribute to God himself; And earthly power doth then show likest God's When mercy seasons justice.
- William Shakespeare -
Among the attributes of God, although they are all equal, mercy shines with even more brilliancy than justice.
- Miguel de Cervantes -
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
- Psalms 23:6 -

Recommended Reading

Forgiveness, Mercy, and Clemency — by Austin Sarat, Nasser Hussain

A text-book of the philosophical issues relating forgiveness, mercy and clemency - looking at their inter-connectedness, their impact and their correlation to spirituality. A book for the philosopher and analytic, critical reader.

Book of Mercy — by Leonard Cohen

A literary gem and a book of enlightenment for both Christians and Jews alike as Leonard Cohen walks readers through thought provoking inspirations as they discover for themselves what it is in their lives that truly matter.

General Rules

Practice virtues daily so that they become ‘habits of the heart’.

Don‘t strive for perfection.

Never give up! Remember: even the greats have off days.

Rely on your intuition.

Avoid extremes. Strive to achieve the golden mean between excess and deficiency of a virtue.

Have fun and enjoy the program with humor and optimism.

I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice. Abraham Lincoln