Mercy and compassion, given only when deserved by deeds or actions, is neither. We have learned that we must strike against those who strike us and that we must reward those who do as we say. In doing so we put ourselves in the position of judges. We do not understand our brothers and sisters if we continue to judge them. We do not listen. We only speak in a learned tongue that tells us justice must be served. If we stand against a wall, does that wall bend to our will? If we fall into a hole, does that hole do what we ask of it? These things do not understand mercy and compassion, and so it is up to us to lift our brothers and sisters from out of the hole and to lift them up so that they may move past that wall.
Why is it that we fixate upon retribution? Why is it that one deed, be it for good or bad, must be followed by another action that answers that deed? If something is stolen, is it not enough that what was stolen is returned? Is it not better to realize that the thief has acquired a debt of conscience that can only be cleared through the forgiveness of the victim? If we were to realize that for every wrong done by one to another that the true victim is the wrongdoer, could we not learn to realize the folly of such wrongdoing? Could we then not grow as a people instead of digging holes and building walls?
But, says the man,
"I am by trade a ditch digger."
"I am by trade a mason."
"It is my job to do these things.
It is what I do.
It is what I am."
Can one unlearn the traits and the methods by which one has lived their life? Can they acquire the ability to reinterpret what is before them? What is deeply imbedded in the mind radiates out into the spirit. The nature of the soul changes, becomes tweaked, by that which we learn on mortal soil. Our vision becomes clouded by what we have been taught to accept as truth. What the soul sees and what the brain interprets often result in different answers. We try to balance the two in order to find the result that will satisfy ourselves and those we are beholden to. If I allow this man to steal my bread, I cannot let him get away with his theft, for I will lose the respect of my peers. As such, I must take action against him. I will not allow him to trespass upon what is mine and grant him safe passage. He must be punished for his deeds.
There once was a man who made enemies of those who would embrace him. His contempt for himself was so strong that he could only quiet that contempt by attacking those who he perceived as placing themselves above him. He made few friends while making many enemies. His anger and his rage were known to those in his orbit.
When this man hit a wall and fell into a hole, these people would turn their backs. After all, he had only insulted and attacked them in the past, so he did not deserve their help. He would not even accept the help if it were offered. "And so," said those he had offended, "Why should we even bother with this wretch?"
If another man, who had always been kind to the people and had loved and respected them, had faced the same wall or fallen into the same hole, the people would have tried to lift him out of the hole or carry him past the wall. Such a man would be one that they considered a "friend," and a friend is deserving of help whenever they are faced with difficulty.
Some will say that this is an example of how we should respect one another and be kind to one another. "Your actions," they will say, "will eventually be rewarded in kind." The friend is deserving of help because he has been a good person. The wretch is not deserving, for he has dug his own grave and it is his fault that he must lie in it. This is the way of things
The wretch will lie in his hole, or stand helpless against the wall, because he has been judged unworthy. Because he has not given kindness, he will receive no kindness now. His wall is higher and wider than the friend's wall. His hole is deeper and darker than the friend's hole. He has not understood the meaning of compassion, love and mercy in the past and he will not learn to understand now. He will continue to live within a soul that comprehends only anger and retribution. We will have taught him that lesson. We will be proud of ourselves for doing so.
To be certain, you must question all that you do with your heart and soul instead of putting reliance on the mind's capacity for learned behavior. Question what you do and what you believe from within. Retribution tends to be one of the first thoughts that springs to mind when confronted with one who has done you wrong. Study upon it. Study upon whether this retribution will accomplish something good in any realm. For we have a purpose here, to do everything we can for everyone we know, and retribution is a debit upon the bank account of the soul.
At times there is no more you can do. You learn to accept this within your own realm. Either you are capable of no more or what you are willing to give is not accepted. A hand extended must be taken into the hand it is offered to in order to be effective. You can only hold out the hand for so long. If it is ignored, it must eventually be withdrawn. If it is bitten, and torn to pieces, to the point where it cannot heal, then that hand cannot be extended again. Within the balance of these things is the answer.
If you do not learn to accept the hand that is offered
You are no better than those who do not extend the hand.
To give is not always to answer the request of the one you offer yourself to. They may seek that you pity them for their mistakes. They may hope that you will validate their actions, no matter how wrong those actions are. They may want you to stand in darkness with them so they may feel they have a companion there. To give and to help is not to serve as a "yes man" for another's misdeeds or folly. It is to know that if what you can offer may be of value to them in their struggle, then it must be offered. How they interpret your gift is another story entirely.