Dear Ezra and Lian,
Some amount of your lives will be spent with some very Rich and Powerful people. If you want to scare them a lot, start talking about Justice or start demanding relief for the poor, weak or powerless. Preach that they must act Justly or submit to Justice or pay for the crimes they’ve committed; then watch them go into attack or defensive mode. It is one reason why I’m no longer interested in fighting for “social justice”. Practically speaking, social justice is just a cover anyways. It tries to put a halo on revenge or lipstick on the pig of bloodlust. No, I’m in the mercy business now. Most of all because I need unwarranted grace myself. You will find this is especially true of the Rich and Powerful. They desperately need mercy and they know it.
If you ever end up representing someone or some people who have little resources or influence, pursue mercy for them. It appeals to the heart desire of most powerful people. They know if the truth ever comes out about themselves, they have no other hope but mercy. They will give mercy “easily” because they hope someday to get the same. It also makes them feel good; they can be magnanimous.
Mercy is foundational to reconciliation. Mercy can inspire those with hearts of stone to do the unlikely. Acts of mercy will generate more acts of mercy. Imperfect justice quite often just perpetuates a cycle of revenge. When we stop keeping score or assigning blame, it lets generosity flow freely. Mercy seeps through walls and occupies territory where the hard boulder of Justice can never enter. Let me illustrate.
One day after I was distributing rice in villages near Tlabung, the states’ top bureaucrat (Chief Secretary Haukip Hauzel) showed up and did the same with the cameras rolling. The state government had ignored these people for months and the very old, young and weak were dying from complications due to malnutrition. A couple days later, I thanked him at my press conference AND asked for more help. That help and additional help saved lives. (My film footage was damning enough of the government.)
The gleaner principle has a strong element of not keeping score or claiming credit. “Did I drop wheat in my field? God must have meant for you to get it then.” The rich and powerful need a little mercy too. If they FINALLY do something, no matter how small or insignificant, that is NOT the time to rip them. That is the time to demonstrate how much good was done with the scraps off their table. Imagine what could happen if you did more?
Fraser Valley Gleaners donated 550,000 million meals worth of dehydrated food to the famine relief (mautam) I was involved with in 2008. (Getting that into India is a long story for another time.) They use the leftover, Grade B, etc. agricultural produce from the Fraser Valley, British Columbia, Canada. They save it for a super nutritious soup that can be carried in by foot to remote areas. I think they are applying some aspects of the gleaner principle in modern day life. Re-using others’ still good castoffs. I think it also speaks to the attitudes of the poor and those of us who have represented them. We should be grateful for whatever we get, even if we think the soup tastes terrible. 🙂
When we get help it is so easy to complain about its quality or to question the motives of the giver. Corporations get significant business advantages by donating nearly expired medicines or products with little commercial value. However, any time there is a natural disaster they make up a significant portion of the donations.
It may make you feel morally superior to attack evil in its many forms. We can rail at the injustice of the wealthy living off their ill-gotten gains, while their nearby neighbours are starving to death. Most times it’s a fruitless pursuit to try rip aid and money out of their hands. Warm their hearts with love, and let mercy flow like a flood. I want to drown under grace. If you are interested in actually helping people, that’s where you should be.