Tuesday, October 13, 2020


Watching the US Senate hearings on the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, I could not help but think of Portia's famous speech about mercy in The Merchant of Venice. It is addressed to Shylock, as he contemplates the extortion of his "pound of flesh." Anti-Semitism aside--it's there, it's wrenching--Shakespeare puts his finger on a quality that is all too rare in today's vicious political environment. Says Portia:

The quality of mercy is not strained. 
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven 
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest; 
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes: ‘
T'is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes 
The throned monarch better than his crown...

Okay, no monarch, no crown, please. But the absence of compassion in those who occupy our leadership positions in America today threatens to lead us down a truly dangerous path--one where we are no longer able to respect each other's humanity. To embrace raw, unmitigated power--power without mercy, without tolerance, without compassion--is to risk the loss of our humanity, and with our humanity the very survival of our species. As I understand it, even the theory of evolution--the survival of the fittest--allows that mercy, compassion, generosity, conscience, were qualities developed by our species as a matter of self-interest, to come to better terms with each other and the world around us.

Republicans in the Senate today are bent on confirming this nomination by a man who knows no mercy, except as a public demonstration of his power. Their action, too, is an exercise in pure political power. It's my belief that they, and we, will live to regret this act of willful ruthlessness, no matter the qualities of the nominee. 


Marie Smith said...

How those senators can push to confirm that woman to the Supreme Court when they haven’t provided another aid package for people is a total lack of compassion.

Dr Michelle Frantom (aka Dr Grafix aka Munted Doll) said...

Without compassion and mercy we are a species becoming less than human - at our peril. It will be the undoing of us.