Posted by: ritagone | May 10, 2017

The Quality of Mercy…





There is a TV program called American Crime that has been on Sunday nights on ABC; it was the third season of this show, and it was an interesting concept: an ensemble cast that each season rotates parts. And it’s a great ensemble cast too: Timothy Hutton, Felicity Huffman, Lili Taylor, Regina King, and many others. Created by John Ridley, the well-known, talented African-American writer-director, it has gotten rave reviews from the critics if not stellar attention by fans who are perhaps looking for something less challenging and serious.

And it certainly is serious.

This season’s story lines were about the mistreatment of human beings of one another, from the Haitian nanny who is being physically abused by her female employee (including hot water scaldings and knife cuttings) to keep her in her place to the migrant worker who is overworked and underpaid to the sex-trafficked teenager who has nowhere to turn and therefore taken advantage of over and over again.

It is heartbreaking to watch, to understand – even in dramatic form – man’s inhumanity to his fellow man and woman. No one on the show is a hero except, perhaps, the woman whose husband’s family owns a farm which has treated the migrant workers so horribly that eventually a fire kills a dozen of them, a crime that is covered up under the guise of “the business must go on or we can’t provide for everyone else” type logic. She sees the inanity of this and tries to do something about it. She leaves the family home and strikes out on her own, only to discover that on her own she is unable to fend for herself. Her dependence on the family money and position makes it impossible for her to have any gravitas in the matter, and it’s only when her husband takes a stance against a dominating sister who runs the business and everyones’ lives that she manages to find her own footing and a voice for caring for others that might really count, not to mention rescuing her marriage and her self-respect.

I watched the show’s eight episodes with a knot in my stomach each time, knowing that what was being shown on the television screen was a reflection of what happens in the real world, and it is heartbreaking. People in power wield that power to the detriment of those beneath them in the pecking order. The strong prey on the weak. This is not new information, I know, but it’s devastating to realize nevertheless when you see it so blatantly and so well done in dramatic form.

So if you can see this series, American Crime, in any way as re-runs or On Demand, please do so. It’s worthwhile television, for sure. And when and if you should see the real thing, people brutalizing others in real life, try to stop it. At least be aware of it. Even watching it on television makes you cognizant of the ways that people abuse other people.

And that’s at least something: that awareness, that heightened sensitivity to a deep problem in our society and among humans.

Showing mercy is never wasted. It is always what God would ask of us. And certainly in this unmerciful world, every bit of mercy and grace helps.

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