As many Christians will tell you, mercy and grace are some of the dearest and most beautiful qualities of God. Not only does he show us mercy every day by guiding us through problems that we often bring on ourselves, but he gave everyone on earth mercy by dying on the cross so we wouldn’t have to take the consequence for our mistakes. Yet when the idea of showing such great mercy is presented to most people on earth, Christians and non-Christians alike balk at the idea. We make all sorts of excuses to avoid giving anything less than whatever we perceive as justice to those around us when they’re in the wrong, especially if it comes at a cost, despite the fact that there are few people who have never received a kindness they didn’t earn.
Mercy is also one of the main qualities of Edward Elric, the protagonist of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Unlike the majority of the characters, he actually avoids killing his enemies, for no other reason than that they are human, his definition of which is quite broad. His judgement on this is called into question several times, especially when he has to deal with Kimblee, the Crimson Alchemist.
Kimblee is both a fascinating and disgusting villain. Unlike Ed, he is a sociopath who places no value on human life and delights in pain and chaos. Even though Ed knows this, when the soldiers at Briggs decide to kill Kimblee and his chimera henchmen, Ed protests, and argues that they should try to capture them instead. His request is denied, and the soldiers of Briggs think his idea foolhardy and soft.
When they inevitably fight, there is a split second where Ed thinks he has successfully disarmed Kimblee without having to kill him and rejoices…only to find that Kimblee has a second philosopher’s stone, which allows him to win the fight by causing an explosion that pins down his own men and impales Ed with a pole. From this, it appears that the unfortunate moral of the incident is that showing mercy to the undeserving is folly and Ed was being a naive idealist. If the story had ended there, maybe that would be the case, but instead, Ed decides to use some of his quickly fading strength to help the chimeras that the Briggs soldiers were going to kill, and asks them to help him in return. Although he was their enemy only minutes before, they not only help him get the pole out of his gut, but they also take him to a doctor and become his allies.
Later, Kimblee gets chomped on by one of the chimeras and then absorbed into Pride, and it appears that he had finally met his deserved end. But when Pride tries to take over Ed’s body as his own comes apart, Kimblee appears from within his philosopher’s stone and prevents him from doing so. Although it was out of disgust for Pride rather than remorse, he effectively saves Ed’s life, and it is not impossible that if Ed had killed him when he had the chance, Ed would have died. Ed goes on to let Pride live, albeit in a different manner, reinforcing the idea that showing mercy, despite its risks, can be very worthwhile.
This situation is entirely fictional, and of course, no one know what will happen as a result of their choices in real life. Most people will hopefully never have to make life or death decisions, but doesn’t that mean we have all the more reason to show a bit more grace and mercy ourselves? It is easy to forget the many small acts of compassion given to us by the people around us, not to mention God, so why shouldn’t we make the effort to help people who are in need of a little kindness, and forgive some of the mistakes people make against us, because hopefully, when we need them, as we inevitably will, they will remember.
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