The world has kept a close eye on the Olympics and the superhuman agility of the Olympic athletes. Winning is the goal but it’s exhilarating to see mercy in action between two athletes. We witnessed mercy at it’s best when Abbey D’agostina of Team USA and New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin tumbled to the ground during Round 1 of the women’s 5000-meter race. D’agostina encouraged Hamblin to get up and finish the race. Before long it was D’agostina struggling to continue when Hamblin turned back, and returned the same gesture of encouragement to D’agostina. Wow, there is hope for the human race that’s stumbling precariously down the path of cruelty and shame.
In her article, “Mercy Begins in the Home” Kathleen M. Basi relates how mercy begins with kindness in the home and in the world. Basi notes, “How can we expect our children to honor the presence of God in complete strangers–and even enemies–unless they first learn to honor that presence in those who are closest to them? Kindness is in short supply these days. Ratings trump integrity; shock value drives ratings; and commentators and social media users feel entitled to say things to the faceless internet that, not so long ago, would have been universally recognized as bad manners. We aren’t encouraged to find the best in others; we’re conditioned to assume the worst.”
The good news is it doesn’t take superhuman strength to show mercy toward each other at home, in our community, and the world. It’s a shift in perception and a willingness to change our behavior that returns mercy to our everyday lives and allows it to filter into our community. We all have the potential for change, but the “power for change” is found in our actions. Basi reminds us in her article what St. John Paul II once said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” Let’s have our goal be to win the gold medal for mercy in the human race!
Originally published in the Bay City Tribune on Sunday, August 21, 2016.