or Why I Am a Christian
by Michael Osborne
On the one hand, we are continually expressing our instinctive desire for justice; on the other, we are expressing our instinctive desire for mercy. Why both? Is this blowing hot and cold with the same breath?
Instincts express themselves early. You’ll find four-year-old prosecuting attorneys expressing in the most rudimentary terms, “That’s not fair. He got to play with the train set longer than I did” and “She scratched me first.” But the same four-year-old will plead, “Don’t spank me! I won’t do it again.”
Adults retain some of these petty concerns (“He cut me off and made me miss the green light”) but also develop stronger, more settled opinions on weightier matters. “We should send all the illegal immigrants back to Mexico.” “I’m sick of standing behind people using welfare money to buy better meat than I do.” “I can’t believe he got only two years for smashing his girlfriend’s face in!” “It’s only fair that the rich should bear the greater tax burden.” But adults, too, want mercy. “I know this assignment is late, but can you give me another 12 hours?” “Don’t send my son to jail. He’s only a kid; he just needs to grow up.” “He stole to feed his family, and it’s hard to blame him.” “I’m so glad I got off with a warning; I was only nine miles over the speed limit.”
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