Dr Who is mystified; how can a Dalek, albeit one hiding Clara, use the word “mercy”? For a creature dedicated to extermination this word should not be in their vocabulary. But if Daleks understand mercy, then just maybe there is hope for the Doctor’s most infamous enemy.
Mercy opens up the possibility that we may need the help of another or may be able to give help to another. Our fear is of an enemy without mercy. The extremist terrorists of our age are portrayed as (and indeed seem to portray themselves as) without mercy. The lone gunman walking into a school in the state of Oregon shows no mercy. Blogger, Raif Badawi waits, seemingly in vain, to discover if the Saudi Arabian rulers will show mercy. With those who show no mercy any form of negotiation is impossible, they will not be turned from their path.
The possibility of mercy changes everything. It offers the hope that there is another way; that change is possible, that there can be a different outcome. As refugees pour into Europe will they find nations willing to show mercy? Despite the economic challenges, the additional pressure on already stretched services and the impact of new multi-cultural influences, are we willing to show mercy to those who come – whatever the numbers? Or is our mercy limited? There has long been the narrative of the importance of Western values – even their implied superiority – but if we are without mercy then our values are without meaning.
If there is an ounce of Christian influence left on those values, then mercy must be known. In Christian theology without divine mercy we all stand condemned before the judgement seat. It is God’s mercy that makes the Jesus Gospel good news. And if we have been shown such great mercy how can we not show it to others?
Quite how this revelation about Daleks will unfold in some future episode of the Doctor’s travels has yet to be revealed, meanwhile there are thousands waiting on our shores hoping that we too have not forgotten the true importance of this small word: mercy.