Anger and Mercy

September 17, 2012

in Some Things to Think About

Over the weekend here in Sydney there was a small riot in protest of the outrageous amateur film posted on YouTube about the Prophet Mohammed, and a sermon on mercy in the small church I go to. While the priest did not make the connection with the riots, the link between anger and mercy occurred to me.

Anger and Mercy

There is a lot of anger among Australians at the behaviour of the protestors. “Send them back to their own country!” (Notice I did not say Islamic protestors, because while the marchers may be Muslims, their outrageous slogans definitely don’t represent the approach of the vast majority of that faith.)  So what are we non-Muslims so angry about? Riots tend to trigger atavistic reactions — is that what we are feeling? Are these protestors wrong to march against the blasphemy of this YouTube video? I don’t think so. Perhaps it was the slogans they carried, some of which were extremely offensive. But we don’t get as outraged by off-the-wall polemics when they are used by other protestors, such as union members’ on strike. Do we think that Muslims really mean to start a Middle East-type war here in Australia? Doesn’t that say more about our fears than any realistic possibility? Whatever we are feeling, I suggest that we also ought to seek mercy for these protestors.

What a strange word mercy is, so inappropriate in most situations. Mercy means that the guilty person is simply forgiven not condemned. Mercy is contrary to this common atavistic feeling we have that someone (or some group) should get what they deserve. But why ought we to seek mercy? Basically because it is a higher form of human behaviour, which, for Christians, represents how God treats us. It is at the core of the second half of the Our Father, Jesus’ own prayer — “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” God, you have every right to be angry with us but we ask you to treat us with mercy, as we treat others. Mercy not only applies to the guilty one, it applies to us as well. Mercy transforms anger into love, in our hearts and actions — and perhaps also in the hearts and actions of the guilty ones. Surely that is why we ought to seek mercy for these angry protestors. And seek, not just wish it would happen. Be peace-bringers, for example, between Muslims and Christians for a start.

If you need any added impetus for seeking mercy for the protestors, read the editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald by Waleed Aly called “The Incredible Muslim Hulk proves to be no friend of Islam either.” http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/the-incredible-muslim-hulk-proves-to-be-no-friend-of-islam-either-20120916-260e8.html#ixzz26g3vhn9Z

© 2012, James Harlow Brown. All rights reserved.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

John Brown September 17, 2012 at 10:56 pm

Has anyone questioned some of the underlying reasons why this film was even made? Shouldn’t the continued persecution of the coptic christians by the muslims be brought to light? The intolerance by Muslims for other faiths is well documented. The film has done what it set out to do, brought to light the real problem. If the majority of muslims denounce the violence, then let them too denounce the persecution of other religions. Talk is cheap, we seem to see too little action by this so called muslim majority. Ask them to tolerate other religions and see how they respond.

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Barbara Cail September 18, 2012 at 7:28 am

Little children do not have critical thinking capability. Usually their parents are their “Gods” as they are totally dependent. If you fill a small child’s brain with the need to behead other people, the child is likely to become an adult with a mind which is filled with a thinking pattern modelled on the 7th century. This is an excellent way of perpetuating violence as we are seeing now around the world by extremists. They continue to have belief in their belief system at the expense of intellect. Uncontrolled emotion is dangerous.

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jbrown2001 September 18, 2012 at 9:24 am

Very true, and the parents who allow their children to do such things ought to be accountable. In my post, I was not speaking about moral accountability but of the primary stance of non-Muslims toward the group one might call world-wide Islam. Ought not we start from a stance of mercy rather than judgment? Endeavor to see them as like us, in need of forgiveness, rather than aliens who ought to be condemned? That is the knee-jerk reaction I am opposed to. (To be very clear, I am not speaking about you or your post, but about the general reaction in Australia and the the USA to the Muslim reaction to the offensive YouTube video.)

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