I awakened early today…as I do most days in these perilous times…and lay in bed considering the state of affairs here.
My own state and that of my country.
Eventually a familiar phrase popped into my mind. “The quality of mercy is not strained.” (From Portia’s speech in Shakespeare’s The Merchant Of Venice.)
And I suddenly realized why I am so taken with Beto O’Rourke’s candidacy and approach.
Of all of the candidates, he most clearly illustrates the unstrained quality of mercy. Almost all of the others are hectoring, accusing, pleading, arguing and in general playing by the mainstream political book of the day. (I except Tulsi Gabbard and Pete Buttigieg from that rubric, but so far I don’t believe that either has even the slightest chance of winning.)
O’Rourke is not playing that game.
Read Portia’s speech. It has to do with rule. Merciful rule…something that has been sorely lacking in this country (and by extension in this world) for most of human memory.
Portia, in William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1:
The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The thronèd monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptered sway.
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute to God Himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.
Whoever eventually wins the Democratic nomination in 2020 is more than likely going to be going up against the totally merciless Donald Trump…the Ming the Merciless of our time. Trump rules by “dread and fear” alone. Fear is his scepter, his only weapon. He has no other.
The coming presidential election is going to be about this and this alone.
Will we as a people continue to rule…and be ruled…by fear or will the higher power of unstrained mercy win the day?
‘Tis a valid question.
In Beto O’Rourke’s interactions wth people…and especially in his statements about immigration…his natural tendency towards unstrained mercy shines!!!
He is the anti-Trump, and that…not all of the “issues” as covered in the various partisan media, not the covetous dreams of politicians and controllers of both parties…is going to be the deciding factor in this upcoming election, especially if large segments of the generally non-voting electorate are sufficiently motivated to vote.
Trump or Anti-Trump?
Rule by fear or rule by mercy?
A campaign of fear or a campaign of joy?
We shall see.
I know in which direction my support and eventual vote are going to go.
Let us pray.
P.S. While I am at it:
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.
Now…I personally am about as far away from a bible-thumping, U.S.-style white fundamentalist Christian as you can get, but then…they’re the ones most supportive of President Ming The Merciless, who himself is about as far away from the message of The Sermon On The Mount as one can get without dissolving into pure, fully macerated evil and slithering right down into the sewers.
Think about it.