But if you had known what this means, ’I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. (Matthew 12)
Four AM and an argument starts in the alley. There’s words. One that stands out. And there’s various themes on the word, various activities introduced in relation to this word that works hard as verb, adverb, and adjective.
Besides this there’s lots of banging on the dumpster below our window. Not the regular bottle-picking banging. Loud angry banging. And I’m wondering when a neighbour might yell out a window for them to shut-up and leave…a sure way of prolonging the fracas.
After awhile they go away. Voices fade as they move across the parking lot, still wrangling, yelling, interjecting. ’Fuck’ works fine as a noun as well.
I don’t go back to sleep. I stew instead. I accuse them…charge them with disturbing the peace, with dereliction, with having a three word vocabulary.
I get over myself, barely.
What do I know? What brought them to cursing and banging out their frustration in the middle of the night? Were they fighting over bottles? Perhaps. There was a woman. She was keeping up to the squalling. Were they fighting over her? Perhaps.
Is this as deep as I see?
Is there mercy enough in me to imagine them as children? Or do I see them only as projects fit for a program? Do I take up a position about them? Do I sacrifice them through objectification? Or do I show some mercy…and so offer myself mercy?
What were they like when they were five years old? Who did they look to? Who loved them? Who didn’t? Who did they try to love? Who’s desires did they imitate? Who’s desires did they acquire? Did they acquire the ability to love?
And if they never really acquired the capability for charity, for love, can they be guilty of anything besides being noisy and occasionally obnoxious?
What power is behind the eyes that see them as guiltless?