Each of Us Is More Than the Worst Thing We’ve Ever Done

The title for this post is one of the more memorable lines from “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson.

Stevenson, a lawyer who defends those on death row or sentenced to life in prison, people who are broken. He notes that he often had conversations with clients who were struggling and despairing over their situations and the things they had done, or were done to them. These clients would question the value of their lives, and he would remind them that they were more than the worst thing they had ever done.

If you tell a lie, that does not mean you are just a liar. If you take something that is not yours, that does not mean you are just a thief. Even if you kill someone, you are not just a killer.

Understanding this is helpful not just for those who may be questioning the value of their lives, it is also helpful for all of us. We have all judged someone as a result of something that person has done, but we should not define someone just based on that act.

Stevenson notes that we are all broken in one way or another, and understanding our brokenness creates not only a need and desire for mercy, but also a corresponding need to show mercy.

The power of just mercy is that it belongs to the undeserving; it’s when mercy is least expected that it is most potent.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. As some data-based evidence of how good this book is, there are 1,500 reviews of it on Amazon, with an average rating of 4.9 stars. What is truly remarkable however, is that there are zero 1 or 2 star ratings. I have never seen a book, or any product on Amazon, that has that large a number of reviews with no 1-star ratings, let alone no 2-star ratings. Usually someone will find something to complain about, but not with this book.

If you would like to get a little preview of what the book is about, here is a Facebook Live interview that Cory Booker (my favorite politician) had last week with Bryan Stevenson about Just Mercy.

4 thoughts on “Each of Us Is More Than the Worst Thing We’ve Ever Done

  1. great movie too. Reading Warmth of Other Suns and Caste by Isabel Wilkerson I am newly shocked at the many horrors of not just slavery but Reconstruction, lynching and near lynching and indignities large and small… children and adults. And fact that Germany STUDIED Jim Crow America as a model for how the Natzi would separate and denigrated the Jews… oddly unlike our “one drop of negro blood” was too intolerant for the Natzi… they allowed 1 grandparent to be Jewish.

    Then there was the model of the India’s Caste system and “untouchables” ….and simiilarity to the deep south. And the entire US not allowing ‘negros’ access to swimming pools … not even allowing swimming at separate times but AT ALL.

    I am continually shocked at man’s inhumanity to man but learning more about US “history” explains so much about current prejudices today and why BLM finally arose in 2020 as a pent up explosion of ENOUGH and then why Jan 6 “rebellion” happened as the two “movements” are very related.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never knew that Germany learned from us about how to denigrate people, sad indeed for the U.S.

      And the BLM movement is a long time coming, I just hope this time it makes a long-lasting difference.

      Thanks for the book recommendations…

      Liked by 1 person

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