Thursday Quotables is a weekly feature hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies. It is a weekly feature where readers highlight a quote or quotes from their current weeks reading. Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m really stingy with my 5-star reads (or listens)h – so it seems only right that my first Thursday Quotables in several years (yikes!) is from just one of those books. The recommendation for Just Mercy came from someone in the Goodreads Audiobooks group that I am part of and I don’t regret it for a second. I’ll admit to not always being a fan of books narrated by the author – but honestly, I don’t know if anyone but Bryan could have given Bryan’s Just Mercy the passion and emotion it deserved. This is a the second book about a lawyer who has devoted his life to helping those people the most in need – people who have been sentenced to death row (the other one being the Angel of Death Row). For over twenty years, Bryan Stevenson has run Equal Justice Initative in Alabama. Just Mercy focused on one case that Bryan and his legal team fought for several years – of a black man falsely convicted and sentenced to death row. But interspersed with his story were other critical cases that guided Bryan’s career – cases that made him chose to pick the career that he did, cases that he argued before the Supreme Court, cases that he won and cases that he lost. All of the quotes for this week were though-provoking about the death penalty.
Mercy is just when it is rooted in hopefulness and freely given. Mercy is most empowering, liberating, and transformative when it is directed at the undeserving. The people who haven’t earned it, who haven’t even sought it, are the most meaningful recipients of our compassion.”
My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice.
[W]e would never think it was humane to pay someone to rape people convicted of rape, or assault and abuse someone guilty of assault or abuse. Yet we were comfortable killing people who kill in part because we think we can do it in a manner that doesn’t implicate our own humanity the way that raping or abusing someone would. I couldn’t stop thinking that we don’t spend much time contemplating the details of what killing someone actually involves.
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.
Finally, I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned. We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated.
Fear and anger are a threat to justice. They can infect a community, a state, or a nation, and make us blind, irrational, and dangerous.
There were many other quotes that I could have featured from this book – but these were ones that I had specifically tagged on Goodreads as I was listening to Just Mercy. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to listen to next – because Just Mercy gave me a serious book hangover…