Is Mercy Dead As Dodo?

April 2, 2022

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” – Jesus Christ in Sermon of the Mount (Mathew 5: 7), New Testament of Bible.

Fifteen centuries later William Shakespeare (1564-1616) said on the same subject:

"The quality of mercy" is a speech given by Portia in William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (Act 4, Scene 1). In the speech, Portia, disguised as a lawyer, begs Shylock to show mercy to Antonio. The speech extols the power of mercy, "an attribute to God Himself."

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.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The thronèd monarch better than his crown.
His scepter 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 sceptered sway.
It is enthronèd 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.

In William Shakespeare in Merchant of Venice - Act 4, Scene 1.

Please read the above in the context of girl students debarred from appearing in the public exams, which are underway as you read this, for wearing hijab. All media followers are aware of the hopeless situation and so I conclude with another Shakespearean quote: “O Judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason. – Julius Caesar, Act 3; Scene 2.

The subject is open to many views. What are yours? Your response is invited in the format given below (Pl scroll down a bit).

Over to you.


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Comment on this article

  • Daniel, Mangalore

    Sun, Apr 03 2022

    Done in haste ? Would have been better if maintained status quo for this academic year ? and brought in for next academic year onwards?

  • mohan prabhu, Mangalore/canada

    Sun, Apr 03 2022

    Modern society runs according to the rules of law. If they are transgressed, the accused has to face consequences and submit to the verdict given by the judge. Before pronouncing it, the accused is asked if he wants to make any submissions. Thus there is a chance for showing mercy. Similarly, where an accused is handed a death sentence, the one on death-row can file a petition of mercy to the President. The President can commute death sentence to life in prison. On very important national occasions, such as the election of a new president (as in US) - or during the presidency, the President in office, or the outgoing or incoming president has the power to pardon those convicted. This shows that "mercy is not dead". On the other hand, it is not a question of mercy if a legally pronounced judgement is defied by a few of the many who continue to obey the judgement, just because their rights are superior to any legal rights. Therein comes the defiance of hijab Muslim girls who refuse to obey and agitate their rights - so far they have not stormed the examination halls, using their supporters. Mercy is not possible under such circumstances. However, a ruler doesn't have to insist that there can be no exceptions if reasonable accommodation can be made which does not take away the "majesty" of the law, but upholding its power but at the same time conditioning it in such a way that the law becomes an ass. What does it cost, apart from the rigidity of th law, to insist on the specified uniform whilst within a classroom attending classes but allowing the hijab to be either folded and kept in a bag or deposited in a locker before the classes start. Therein lies the "quality of mercy", if one can call it such.

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