Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Quality of Mercy

The quality of mercy is not strained
It droppeth as a gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath
It is twice blessed, it blesseth him that gives and him that takes...

These lines from Portia's speech in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice have been a personal favourite since Class IX I think, when I first read it as part of my school curriculum. Over the years, life has moved on, times have changed. And yet, for the last few days, these lines keep coming to my mind for god-knows-what reasons.

The speech was written centuries ago, but what a speech! Mercy, for one, cannot be forced on anyone. Is it not true? One can be merciful only if one wants to, not otherwise. You can pity someone, but to have mercy---would take a lot more. It would mean forgiving and forgetting.  

 At certain times in life, we are at a crossroads and face a situation where we need to choose pity or mercy. With pity, you deject the person who has wronged you. But the grudge remains. It is only mercy that can help you get over all hard feelings and forgive someone for his/her wrong-doings. And this is not true only in the case of a husband-wife or a love relationship. It can happen in friendship too.

Sometimes, we get to know a person and acknowledge friendship within moments. At other times, it may take years. And the choice between pity and mercy surfaces when you realize that the friend you considered second to none for over a decade lets you down at the drop of a hat! It is then that we need to decide---mercy or pity!
Tough and complicated I say... but what is life without these little twists in the tale?

So, whenever you are confronted with such complex philosophies, turn to nature and animals. They don't ask for mercy and you don't need to pity them.

They let you be and embrace you unconditionally.


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