Wow, it's been quite a while! I hope you're all doing well and that 2007 is going along quite nicely! In this issue of My Webl, I'll have a brief recap of what I've been up to for the past few months, then I'll talk about justice and mercy... so feel free to skip all or part of my post :)
A Brief Update
I got to visit Mai Lan and her family around New Year's, and that was really great! The only downside was me getting sick right on New Year's Eve... so for the first time in recent memory, I slept through the dawn of a new year. Fortunately, they don't have a tradition of staying up for it, so I wasn't ruining anybody's fun :) It was a great time though! Hopefully I'll get to go skiing with Mai Lan this season (though this may be unlikely this year), and go skiing with her family sometime too!
I've gotten to spend a bit more time with friends from university this year, but still not a lot. Phil, Crystal, Mai Lan and I went to a driving range for a bit! It started out horribly for everyone but Phil (who'd gone before), but we were starting to get the hang of it by the end (I thought about saying getting into the swing of it, but I decided to spare you all the cheesy pun :P).
School's been going well, still really busy though! I got accepted to Waterloo for their grad program in Social Psychology, so that's where I'm heading next year! Waterloo was my top choice, I have a great researcher and very nice person as my primary supervisor... the only downside is Mai Lan will still be at York! Fortunately, transportation between Toronto and Waterloo doesn't seem that bad, so we should still be able to see each other fairly regularly in person, and phone/online conversations will have to tide us over in between. Also, it seems as though all the people I knew who went to Waterloo are coming to the Toronto area... it's kind of funny really. Donny will still be around for awhile, since a co-op degree takes a bit longer to do, but I'll try not to interfere with his social life too much :P We may end up living with each other, still not sure about that though... we'll see!
So that's sort of a crash-course update for what's been new in my life recently. I'm now going to move on to mercy and justice, and how they're the same thing. It seems like I haven't talked about that here before, though I've had the idea for awhile... so, read on if you're interested!
Justice and Mercy
While receiving back an essay proposal to my Milton Professor, she'd indicated that one of my points involving justice and mercy actually being the same thing was incorrect. Superficially, they seem to be polar opposites... you can either show someone mercy when they've done something wrong, or you can bring them to justice. In fact, I was browsing through a survey that was supposed to say something about your psychological state, and one of the questions was to say which way you leaned, towards justice or mercy. While it is true that trying to bring about justice or trying to bring about mercy can lead to drastically different outcomes, it is only true if you are viewing them at a very superficial level. "True" justice and "true" mercy are actually the same thing. To illustrate, here's an example:
A man is found guilty of a terrible crime... perhaps he has murdered many people. Let's say that in the particular society he is from, their ideas of justice clearly dictate he must be killed for his crime. Now, justice has been done... except, what about the man's family? Perhaps they've done nothing wrong, and they've lost a husband/father, a provider... their whole lives have been made potentially worse by the loss of this man. Now let's say that despite him being a murderer, he still had other positive qualities, he still contributed to society in some way... and now society has been robbed of all his future potential good actions. Is this really justice?
On the other hand, let's say that this same man is from a particular society which is focussed on mercy, and so he is forgiven and let go. Yet he continues to murder... this is not merciful to the people who are murdered, their families and all the repercussions for society.
If you only look at a superficial idea of justice and mercy, justice is not just and mercy is not merciful. However, there is a place where both of these ideals meet, and that is doing what is best for everyone concerned. The function of both justice and mercy is to do what is right, but they each approach this same bath from different sides. Like so many of the artificial dualities in human culture, with a full understanding of both they collapse in to one. It is my belief that there is always a good option to be taken... in the examples I used, I believe that the murderer could be changed. Perhaps this belief is incorrect, and sometimes people are forced to go back on their morals to accomplish the greater good, and the ends justify the means. However, I think that if you don't give up the search, there is always a good choice to be made, that doesn't require you to sacrifice the present for the future... because if you always do that, then the future you are sacrificing for will never come.
Thank you all for reading what I've been up to, and yet another of my crazy/naive ideas. I look forward to catching up with all of you!
P.S. I got to keep my point for my essay proposal :)