Mercy All the Way Down?

Ted Grimsrud—July 18, 2011

One of my favorite books, Walter Wink’s Engaging the Powers, begins with a most challenging question: “How can we oppose evil without creating new evils and being made evil ourselves?”

I wonder often about the role of vengeance in our society and in our personal lives. (I have posted a longer essay on this topic, “Beyond Vengeance”, on my website.) So much violence (think of our criminal justice system and of so many embittered former spouses and friends) accelerates the spiral of revenge/retaliation following violation.

The simple answer, of course, is to replace revenge with forgiveness. Stop the spiral of violence in its tracks. Well, yes….But, if we are honest, we know things are not that simple.

When we are violated, we experience damage that creates needs. To jump straight to forgiveness short-circuits those needs. For this reason, often people who “forgive” too soon end up repressing their pain, over time leading to many more problems. Continue reading “Mercy All the Way Down?”