These are my concluding thoughts to a series of posts that begin here.
I believe that I am incapable of executing my life without the presence of sin. What I mean is, I feel as though a universal code of conduct exists that creates peace within me when I follow it and creates distress within me when I do not. Furthermore, I have projected this belief about myself onto all people. Onto you, even. It is accurate to suggest that it forms a load bearing wall in my worldview.
One of the things I respect about the Christians is that they are acutely sensitive to the tension between justice and mercy. Because of their belief in the "sinful nature" of all men, including themselves, this issue gets more than mere depthless, fleeting consideration. This tension is thoroughly pillaged and crops are routinely harvested. It should be noted, however, that it can look foolish to the rest of the world if they happen to peek in during the sowing season.
One of these crops is compassion.
Right now you're probably thinking that I'm talking about the compassion that you, and I mean you specifically, feel on a regular basis. But I am not. Oh sure, some of you know what I mean, but I'd wager that the rest of you are clueless now in exactly the same way that I was clueless before. The kind of compassion I'm talking about does not tug at your heart and captivate your attention. It is not the soft compassion reserved for poverty-stricken orphans or leukemia patients or quadriplegics. No, the compassion I'm talking about smells like beer and hasn't shaved in weeks. It is hard and calloused and abrasive to your sensibilities. If you don't look for it, you will not find it.
Some of the most rewarding experiences available to us in this life will not come naturally. They will carry risk and have personal cost. Pardon me for a moment while I talk to my children.
Sydney and Savannah:
As you make your way through this life I hope you recognize two forms of compassion exist. The first kind will seek you out unexpectedly and come easy to your heart, the second is the kind you have to seek out for yourself and work for once you've found it. I believe that if you feed either of these they will grow and if you starve them they will wither. I also believe that the greater of these two is the one you have to earn. Inherent in the process of chasing down and working through the hard compassion is an undeniable truth. While pursuing either may afford you the opportunity to change the heart of the world, focusing on the hard compassion carries the added benefit changing the heart of you.
You can't force yourself to feel compassion, but you can earn the privilege.
I love you both,
Here I am, a man in his early 30s with 2 young daughters writing letters and sending books to a confessed pedophile. When I stand back and look at it in those terms I think to myself, "To whom, exactly, does this make sense?" But when I look at it the other way, my doubts scurry. The folks at Deadly Viper have a campaign called People of a Second Chance and they believe that a second chance is a human right. I'm a little divergent about the wording but I am 100% behind the spirit of the message.
Are some crimes, and consequently some people, beyond compassion? Do you believe that compassion can be earned, and if so, to what benefit or folly?