Monday, January 13, 2003

E. F. Schumacher on justice and mercy
In the life of societies there is the need for both justice and mercy. "Justice without mercy," said Thomas Aquinas, "is cruelty; mercy without justice is the mother of dissolution"--a very clear identification of a divergent problem. Justice is a denial of mercy, and mercy is a denial of justice. Only a higher force can reconcile these opposites: wisdom. The problem cannot be solved, but wisdom can transcend it. Similarly, societies need stability and change, tradition and innovation, public interest and private interest, planning and laissez-faire, order and freedom, growth and decay. Everywhere society's health depends on the simultaneous pursuit of mutually opposed activities or aims. The adoption of a final solution means a kind of death sentence for man's humanity and spells either cruelty or dissolution, generally both.--A Guide for the Perplexed, p. 127.
I don't know that I agree that his dichotomies are actually opposites, but I do agree that they need to be reconciled, and that wisdom is the answer. I especially agree with his last sentence. I think de Lubac, Vatican II and John Paul II have made a similar point

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