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  • jdettmann

I Stand For Mercy


Last night, both of my children asked me to sleep in their room with them. I said no, because I am not a pushover, and went to bed. In the middle of the night Garnet woke up and called ‘Mummy, I need you.’ About six seconds later I was tucked up in his bed with my arms around him, listening to the sounds of him and May Blossom breathing. Last night, on an island in Indonesia, eight people were taken out into the bush and shot to death, on the Indonesian government’s orders. Two of them were young Australian men. They were four people’s little boys. They were brothers, friends, nephews and grandsons. One was a new husband. As far as I know they weren’t anyone’s fathers, and I suppose it’s a good thing there aren’t any children to be left fatherless by their executions.

I’m generally pretty hopeless at looking the bad aspects of our world in the eye. I’m didn’t participate in any vigils for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. I didn’t write to President Joko Widodo. I doubt I could have done anything to change what happened. And at the moment, my life doesn’t really allow me to devote a lot of time to political activism. I feel constantly overwhelmed by how much I don’t know and understand about government, politics, the law and how any of this could be changed to make the world a better place. I just don’t know enough, and it makes me feel helpless.

But I do know one thing: I stand for mercy. I’m not religious but I do live by a moral code. And a fundamental part of that code is this: try really hard not hurt people. And certainly don’t fucking murder them. The death of these men was preventable. And I guess for me it comes down to that. I am against preventable death in all forms.

My job right now is raising two kids. H and I are trying to teach them right from wrong and to respect the law. In time we’ll try to teach them of the dangers of drugs, and that the risks you take to make a quick buck are usually not worth it. But I imagine that’s what most parents do. That’s probably what Chan’s and Sukumaran’s parents did. Ultimately I can’t control what decisions my kids will make as adults, and that’s a terrifying thought.

The only other thing I can think of that I can do right now is focus on raising my children in such a way that they develop empathy, compassion, kindness, forgiveness and mercy. Because while any child, mine included, could end up in the situation of either Sukumaran or Chan, making a bad decision at a young age, they could equally end up in a position of power, like Joko Widodo. I want them to learn that it isn’t weak to not extract an eye for an eye. It is not weak to show mercy, to give second chances, to recognise rehabilitation when you see it. You don’t have to hit back harder. You can be the bigger person. That is what makes you powerful.

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