Reflections by Students at St. Catharine Academy, Bronx, New York

It seems everyone in our community of Mercy felt a spark of excitement when National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman mentioned the power of mercy in her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” which she read at President Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021. Part of that poem reads:

If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright

Amanda Gorman’s words inspired the following thoughtful reflections from students in Nikki Attia’s AP World History class at St. Catharine Academy.

Jaslyn T. ‘23

In line 42, Gorman says, “If we merge mercy with might…” This statement can mean to find an understanding in order to fight with power. The idea of mercy is to become compassionate and forgiving towards any concept, while might symbolizes the idea of power. Uniting these two definitions can simply construct the meaning behind this quote by showing the positives when trying to overcome situations. In this case, the American people should forgive the past and try to build newer and better outcomes for the future.

Jessica U. ‘23

In this sense to merge mercy with might means to merge power with humility. Instead of being known as a fearful powerful person, you should be known as a strong willful, powerful and fair leader. A leader who fights for the sake of the people and not for the sake of being talked about or looked at as less than important. To merge mercy with might means knowing when it’s time to fight and when it’s time to reconcile for the benefit of the people. It means to take charge and lead people in the right direction for their sake and the sake of a beautiful and purposeful union.

Jehona Q. ‘23

What Amanda Gorman means when she says “If we merge mercy with might” is that we as a country need to fight with power but also be compassionate and caring to people. When some people think of mercy, they think of being weak and letting people walk over them but what they don’t realize is that you need mercy to fight, to be able to understand and convey their ideas to other people. One example that is shown through this poem is that the American people, as a whole, should learn from the past and take those lessons and not let history repeat itself. When Amanda Gorman brought mercy and might she was trying to convey the thought that people can still be compassionate and use mercy while still fighting for what they believe in.

Carly N. ‘23

When Amanda Gorman says “merge mercy with might” she means that just because you’re powerful and have a higher power doesn’t mean you can’t have empathy and understand where people are coming from because it leads to division. The following line states, “So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.” When talking about merging mercy with might she means merging compassion with strength.

Ta’Aliyah P. ‘23

Amanda means in order to fight a good fight one has to have mercy to see the strength of others; mercy, to find compassion for others instead of fighting or shooting. To see people where they are in life. In order to come to an understanding, merging mercy with might creates a good bond so people feel comfortable, and it makes compassion a big part of merging the two.

Azaria P. ‘23

The difference between striving for a perfect union and striving for a union with a purpose is that if you strive for perfection you aren’t giving yourself a realistic standard for a country because you will never get everyone to agree with you. When you strive for something with a purpose you have true and deep emotions and meaning behind getting what you so desire. To build an America that has a purpose we can start out with educating others more about the different beliefs of others no matter if it’s racial, political or sexual differences. In line 43, Amanda Gorman says “let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left” showing how she has a true goal and motivation on how we can improve our country.