“We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent. I desperately wanted mercy for Jimmy Dill and would have done anything to create justice for him, but I couldn’t pretend that his struggle was disconnected from my own. The ways in which I have been hurt, and have hurt others, are different from the ways Jimmy Dill suffered and caused suffering. But our shared brokenness connected us.
Paul Farmer, the renowned physician who has spent his life trying to cure the world’s sickest and poorest people, once quoted me something that the writer Thomas Merton said: We are bodies of broken bones. I guess I’d always known but never fully considered that being broken is what makes us human. We all have our reasons.
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.
We have a choice. We can embrace our humanness, which means embracing our broken natures and the compassion that remains our best hope for healing. Or we can deny our brokenness, forswear compassion, and, as a result, deny our own humanity.
I thought of the guards strapping Jimmy Dill to the gurney that very hour. I thought of the people who would cheer his death and see it as some kind of victory. I realized they were broken people, too, even if they would never admit it. So many of us have become afraid and angry. We’ve become so fearful and vengeful that we’ve thrown away children, discarded the disabled, and sanctioned the imprisonment of the sick and the weak, not because they are a threat to public safety or beyond rehabilitation but because we think it makes us seem tough, less broken. I thought of the victims of violent crime and the survivors of murdered loved ones, and how we’ve pressured them to recycle their pain and anguish and give it back to the offenders we prosecute. I thought of the many ways we’ve legalized vengeful and cruel punishments, how we’ve allowed our victimization to justify the victimization of others.
We’ve submitted to the harsh instinct to crush those among us whose brokenness is most visible. But simply punishing the broken, walking away from them or hiding them from sight, only ensures that they remain broken and we do, too. There is no wholeness outside of our reciprocal humanity.“
― Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
After going through this page, I just sat there in a trance at what just hit me.
This is a reminder that we all carry wounds and scars, whether visible or invisible and that acknowledging and embracing our brokenness is crucial for healing and growth.
Denying our brokenness or projecting our pain onto others only perpetuates the cycle of harm and suffering.
Instead, as Stevenson suggests, we can choose to cultivate compassion and empathy for ourselves and others, recognising our shared humanity and vulnerability.
This is not an easy path, as it requires us to confront our fears, biases, and prejudices, but it is a necessary one if we want to create a more just and compassionate society.
I always maintain that certain books should come with warning labels because they may change your life, this is one such book.
It is a powerful reminder of the transformative power of empathy and the importance of fighting for justice and redemption for all, even those society has deemed unworthy or irredeemable.
Brokenness shows itself in every one of us in our own unique ways.
I guess that’s why in his interview Black Coffee openly talks about the importance of therapy and healing.