Sword Art Online, Episode 25: Oh, Mercy!
Kirito Kazuto rushes to the hospital to meet Asuna, he faces one final challenge – the real Sugou, just as crazed as his video game self, but armed with a very real knife. Of course, Kazuto, who surpasses Sugou in physical strength as well as game skills, wins the fight. He holds the knife at Sugou’s throat, apparently ready to end the life of the one who had taken so much from him and had taken Asuna’s body and mind hostage.
Of course, Kazuto decides to be merciful, and lets Sugou go to face judgement in a court of law.
I was reminded of the story of a man I work closely with. As a teenager, he was the lone survivor of a horrific act of mass murder during the Rwandan Genocide. Many years later, he returned to his country and came face to face with one of the perpetrators of the horrible act. The man begged his forgiveness, even as my co-worker held a gun to his head, wanting to take his life. In the end, my friend was merciful and let his enemy go.
We may never face a moment such as these, where there’s a real life and death struggle involved and where we have an opportunity to take or spare our enemy’s life. But there are small moments in our day, involving people who are certainly not enemies, whom we have the opportunity to be merciful toward.
Right now, I struggle with being kind to my son. I’m hard on him and easily lose my patience. My frustration is birthed from lack of self-control rather than anything he’s done wrong. Still, I struggle be merciful.
Mercy can be given for a variety of reasons, but it’s at its purest when it’s given by a righteous heart. Kazuto has no love lost for Sugou, but he has kind heart and is a person full of character. He makes the right decision, rather than the one he wants to make.
In our lives, we often face such opportunities to make the right decision rather than the selfish one. Sometimes it means holding back our tongues or assisting someone we dislike rather than scoffing at him. I’m intent on doing right by my son and being a better dad – but more than that, I want to do the same with others, whether family or people I barely know.
For all the blandness of Kazuto’s character, like Nagisa of Clannad, there’s something to admire in the character’s…character. And perhaps after 25 episodes, this is the lesson to take away: we can and should be better, both to those we love and those we don’t.