“We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation. Fear and anger can make us vindictive and abusive, unjust and unfair, until we all suffer from the absence of mercy and we condemn ourselves as much as we victimise others. The closer we get to mass incarceration and extreme levels of punishment, the more I believe it’s necessary to recognise that we all need mercy, we all need justice, and - perhaps - we all need some measure of unmerited grace.”
“We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent...
We have a choice. We can embrace our humanness, which means embracing our broken natures and the compassion that remains our best hope for healing. Or we can deny our brokenness, forswear compassion,and, as a result, deny our own humanity.
So many of us have become afraid and angry. We’ve become so fearful and vengeful that we’ve thrown away children, discarded the disabled, and sanctioned the imprisonment of the sick and the weak - not because they are a threat to public safety or beyond rehabilitation but because we think it makes us seem tough, less broken...I thought of the many ways we’ve legalised vengeful and cruel punishments, how we’ve allowed our victimisation to justify the victimisation of others. We’ve submitted to the harsh instinct to crush those among us whose brokenness is most visible.
But simply punishing the broken - walking away from them or hiding them from sight - only ensures that they remain broken and we do too. There is no wholeness outside of our reciprocal humanity.”
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