“In personal life, people have absolute power one each other, whereas in professional life, beyond the terms of the contract, people have authority, the power to make one another comply in ways which may be perceived as legitimate or illegitimate. In personal life, regardless of any covenant, one party may initiate a unilateral and fundamental change in the terms of relating without renegotiating them, and further, refusing even to acknowledge the change. Imagine how a beloved child or dog would respond, if the Lover turned away. There is no democracy in any love relation: only mercy. To be at someone’s mercy is dialectical damage: they may be merciful and they may be merciless. Yet each party, woman, man, the child in each, and their child, is absolute power as well as absolute vulnerability. You may be less powerful than the whole world, but you are always more powerful than yourself.”
– Gillian Rose, Love’s Work
I really like the idea that love – or not even love, any personal relationship where someone is giving trust and reaching out – is an act of mercy. Part of my mind goes to middle school and high school, when girls traffic in nasty gossip that seems to hold so much power over teenagers, and sometimes being a good friend – or an effective enemy – is to know when to be merciful and when to be merciless.