“The quality of mercy is not strained;

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless’d;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:

‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown;

His scepter shows the force of temporal power,

The attribute to awe and majesty,

Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;

But mercy is above this sceptred sway,

It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,

It is an attribute to God himself,

And earthly power doth then show likest God’s

When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew, 

Though justice be thy plea, consider this,

That in the course of justice none of us

Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy,

And that same prayer doth teach us all to render

The deeds of mercy.”

William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, scene 1

“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.”

Abraham Lincoln

Do you need something to teach?  Right now?

Have your students compare the above quotes.  Who said it better?  This is an exercise in discernment.

See below for a list of short stories that explore the idea of mercy.

Gut Shot

Course: The American Civil War

Word Count: 860 words

Reading Level: secondary

Genre: historical fiction

Summary: The short story Gut Shot is about a veteran who comes face to face with the suffering of an enemy soldier.  He has a choice to make.