Sunday’s Wisdom #405: The Strength of Mercy

“To my mind, it’s the certainty in myself that I posses which allows me to have that kind of mercy or compassion. There’s no wavering on that point. It’s fixed like the stars. The fact is, I’m never gonna be killed. So remember this: mercy and compassion are virtues that only the strong are privileged to possess… and I am strong.”
– Claire Stanfield, Baccano!
Episode 11, “Chane Laforet Remains Silent in the Face of Two Mysterious People”

As a killer of monstrous capability, Claire is very physically strong and possesses a strong, steadfast force of will as well. He can be brutal and ruthless, but possesses a strong sense of honor as well, indeed it is this which directs upon whom his brutality is unleashed. One such enemy of his is a sadistic, psychopathic killer who simply takes joy, or some perverse imitation of such, in killing, in wanton bloodshed and murder. In the mind of Claire’s enemy, killing people is the proof of his power, and such things as charity, compassion, kindness, mercy, and love are nothing but shackles, self-imposed limits which are worn by the weak as an excuse for their weakness. He doesn’t understand how Claire can be so strong and yet tie himself down with such useless principles, but Claire already has his own resolve on this, and it speaks much more truly to the core of humanity’s decency and villainy both.

It has been observed by wise people that cruelty stems from a weakness in the soul, in the pain of something lacking, something that seeks to tear people down. Those who do commit vile deeds against innocent people are doing so because they are ultimately weak, and they cannot envision themselves as strong in any other way. It’s a cop out, an attempt to equalize their world in the easiest way possible. Indeed, how many of humanity’s worst deeds have been precisely for this reason? Columbine, the Holocaust, the blood-stained tyranny of the French Revolution, countless instances of robbery, assault, murder, rape, and torture, all because people surrendered to the very worst parts of themselves, all of them trying to beat others down so they could see themselves as “equals.”

Claire suffers from no such weakness. He is certain of himself, certain of his power, and certain of his morals. He feels no urge to tear others down, but to shelter those he is responsible for, those who cannot protect themselves. It’s easy to get distracted by the strength of his body, he even does so himself when he talks about never being killed, but it is the strength of his spirit which empowers him to show mercy to those who most need it.

There are all sorts of people, with all sorts of strengths and all sorts of temperaments, who have shown mercy and compassion to those around them. Some of them work tirelessly as medics or counselors. Some serve the homeless and hungry with everything they can possibly spare. Some put their lives on the line to protect those in danger. Some work to rescue their fellow beings from dire straits of every kind, or to comfort those who have endured loss, or sometimes they just share a kind word and give a brief helping hand in a time of need.

Most of these people have been, in some way, weak. Sometimes in ways which they needed help to overcome, and sometimes in ways which simply could not be changed. Everyone is or has been weak in some way. But when they take their weakness and choose to help others, to build up instead of tear down, that is when they are strong.

Anyone, in any walk of life, can be strong like that, in showing kindness instead of cruelty. We don’t have to be superhuman to do it. I would say it’s the greatest power and the deepest strength there is, and sometimes the only one we have.

The weakest person in the world is still stronger than the most cruelest, if they can still be kind.

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