From: Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” 1596.
PORTIA: The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
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:
‘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. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there.
Shakespeare has been thoroughly criticized, over the centuries, for using high-flown, lofty and incomprehensible language and in more recent times, for boring contemporary, disinterested school children to tears. This speech of Portia’s, addressed to the sly, crafty and miserly Jewish moneylender, Shylock, shall forever be immortalized because Shakespeare, in reality, could very well have been the rival of modern-day psychologist Freud, for all his insightful psychology into the economics of human character and behavior. One must not forget that this speech was written by Shakespeare in 1596 for his tremendously popular play, “Merchant of Venice”, at a time when freedom of speech was far from being the norm of the day, by any means at all and when one feared incurring the wrath of the reigning monarch, the Church and the rich, slothful nobility. This was the age of revolutions, the rebirth (renaissance) of the arts & culture, (as we know them today) and of enlightenment.
What is forgiveness? Of course, you know what it is – it is an act of kindness and of generosity of spirit in condoning or pardoning someone for a wrong (or a perceived wrong) which could range from a petty, inconsequential misunderstanding to huge, bitter arguments. Many a good relationship has failed to go to fruition because the parties concerned cannot and will not swallow their pride and ego. The quality of forgiveness is not strained – in all its completeness & complexity, it is a virtue, of high standing that stands only next to honest & integrity in importance. If you are basically an honest person, you should rightly possess the strength of character to acknowledge your part in a dispute or offense – for whatever cause that it might have occurred. When a person apologizes for causing offense, knowingly or unknowingly, that individual is not proclaiming that the other one is right and that they are wrong – they have only had the foresight and courage to stand up for what they believe in for the greater good of a relationship, in the long-term.
Many people are not necessarily alone but may feel lonely because they’ve built ‘walls’ around themselves instead of building the vastly better ‘bridge’. When forgiveness is not accorded to a person, you are necessarily leaving a person with a feeling of emptiness, pain and of the feeling that an important job has been left undone before death comes to proclaim that person to the Higher Realms. Life is too short – we really don’t know what is going to happen from one day to the next. When you leave home in the morning, are you sure that you’ll return home in one piece or at all? Why, in the world, then would you want to hold grudges and grievances for months or even years on end? Such a morbid waste of time and energy – that’s what it is!
Forgiveness is twice blessed – it blesses those who extend it and those who receive it. Forgiveness diminishes no one; it is very important for self-healing, more than for anything else. The act of forgiveness releases you from bitterness, anger and hatred – if you cannot forgive someone, you are forever bound to that person through your negative thoughts, emotions and behavior. Mercy is enthroned in the heart of God Himself – if The Lord, in His Infinite Wisdom, can forgive heinous sins like genocide, murder, rape, assault, molestation, kidnap and murder for ransom, drugs, corruption, extortion, theft, pornography, necrophilia and pedophilia – to name just a few extremely serious crimes and offenses – honestly, who are we to stand on judgment of others? Hence, it is right to say – “People who live in glass houses, shouldn’t throw stones.”
In today’s day and age, several social networking sites are highly publicized in the virtual world and to avoid strangers and trouble-makers from stalking and preying on innocent people & children, these sites invented the button of “blocking.” For crying out loud, please don’t misuse this function of blocking that was created with a greater good in mind. When you block people, on these sites, due to some minor misunderstanding, it leaves the blocked party feeling numb and totally rejected. Believe me, rejection online hurts as much as rejection in the real world. You do have the option of ‘unfriending” them too, you know? When you “unfriend” someone on a site like Facebook, you are, to a very large extent, according them the option of forgiveness by allowing them to add you back as a ‘friend’ again or if needs be, for you to add them back as a friend.
Every time, you feel disinclined to condone another, remember that no one is ever an island – we do need people around us!
There is so much pettiness, hatred and bitterness in the world today – the Hindu Philosophy rightly says that this is the “Kaliyuga” – the Dark Ages. This is the age of war, heinous crimes and genocide – all in the name of power, money and greed. The world would be a much better place to live in if everyone started behaving in a more civilized and decent way towards each other!
2 thoughts on “The Quality of Mercy is Twice Blessed”
beautiful, thank you for writing this
walk twice blessed!
Thank you for your kind words. 😊🙏