Socialized action, unconditional compassion, and unmerited mercy, all have a blatant downside. They apply to everyone equally. There are no filters. Conditions by definition do not apply. Looking from a distance, it seems as if bad behavior is rewarded. It appears as if accountability has willingly gone on vacation. Even normal ways of learning based on conditional responses is put to the side.
Some argue that people should rest in their actions. The argument of personal accountability is strong, especially when made from a distance. With personal relationships the boundaries begin to blur. The angst isn’t new. Even in centuries past there were blunt observations about the apparent outcome of society’s behavior. Candidly put, “Jerusalem's on its last legs. Judah is soon down for the count. Everything people say and do is at cross-purposes with God, a slap in my face. Brazen in their depravity, they flout their sins like degenerate Sodom. Doom to their eternal souls! They've made their bed; now they'll sleep in it.” (Isaiah 3.8, 9)
Yet this wasn’t and isn’t the end of the story, then or now. Before we push too hard to force the normal outcome of prior actions we need to think through our desire. Do we really want or need to be fully and completely accountable for our actions? I don’t! Can I learn from mistakes, poor choices, and weak moments? Absolutely! Do I want unmerited mercy? Yes. Will I give others what I have received? Ah, now this is the rub.
Yesterday’s choices haunt everyone. The question is never about the past, it is always about the present. Can and will I choose hope? Is there an opportunity for community? Does my choice bring light or darkness?
In this context, what helps me see more looking forward than back? I believe the answer lies in a balance of personal awareness, a sense of truth, and understanding of compassion and mercy. The first two are personal. The latter is one we give each other. Today’s dawn brings everything into play. What happens next is yet to be written.
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