by Bryan Stevenson
The power of just mercy is that it belongs to the undeserving. It’s when mercy is least expected that it’s most potent—strong enough to break the cycle of victimization and victimhood, retribution and suffering.
I need to come back and write a proper review for this, but in the meantime, I just wanted to say that this is without doubt the most powerful, emotional, heartbreaking, and uplifting book I've read this year.
Not only is the material as agonizing as it is inspiring, but Stevenson is also an extremely gifted writer, and the story he tells is captivating. The only reason I took so long to read it is that I had to keep putting it down whenever I started crying because I was in the gym and it was embarrassing. I could only make it through a chapter or two at a time.
If you live in the US, this is really a book worth reading. I'll leave you with an excerpt from one of my favourite moments in the book:
We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt.
Being broken is what makes us human. We all have our reasons. Sometimes we’re fractured by the choices we make; sometimes we’re shattered by things we would never have chosen. But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis for our shared search for comfort, meaning, and healing. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion.
We have a choice. We can embrace our humanness, which means embracing our broken natures and the compassion that remains our best hope for healing. Or we can deny our brokenness, forswear compassion, and, as a result, deny our own humanity.
We’ve allowed our victimization to justify the victimization of others. We’ve submitted to the harsh instinct to crush those among us whose brokenness is most visible. But simply punishing the broken—walking away from them or hiding them from sight—only ensures that they remain broken and we do, too. There is no wholeness outside of our reciprocal humanity.
I am more than broken. In fact, there is a strength, a power even, in understanding brokenness, because embracing our brokenness create a need and a desire for mercy, and perhaps a corresponding need to show mercy. When you experience mercy, you learn things that are hard to learn otherwise. You see things you can't otherwise see; you hear things you can't otherwise hear. You begin to recognize the humanity that resides in each of us.