In Dmitry’s trial, Dostoyevsky, through his defense counsel, has much to say on mercy, justice and the Spirit of the Law.
Above all, don’t lie to yourself. A man who lies to himself and who listens to his own lies gets to a point where he can’t distinguish and truth in himself or in those around him, and so looses all respect for himself and for others. Having no respect for anyone, he ceases to love, and to occupy and distract himself without love he becomes a prey to his passions and gives himself up to coarse pleasures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices, and all this from continual lying to people and to himself. A man who lies to himself can be more easily offended than anyone else. For it is sometimes vary pleasant to take offense, isn’t it? And yet he knows that no one has offended him and that he has lied just for the beauty of it, that he has exaggerated to make himself look big and important, that he has fastened on a phrase and made a mountain of a molehill — he knows it all and yet is the first to take offence, he finds pleasure in it and feels mightily satisfied with himself, and so reaches the point of enmity…
There are men who in their narrow-mindedness blame the whole world. But crush them with mercy, show them love, and they will curse their past deeds, for there are a great many potentialities for good in them. Their hearts will swell and they will see that God is merciful and that men are just and fair. Such a man will be horror-stricken, crushed by remorse and the great debt that he has to repay henceforth. And he will not say then, “I’m quits,” but will say, “I am guilty in the sight of all men and I am more unworthy than all.” With tears of penitence and poignant, tender emotion, he will cry: “Other people are better than I, for they wished to save me an not to ruin me!”
Dostoyevsky presents, burden, guilt, mercy, justice, passion, ideals, love, truth masterfully in The Brothers Karamazov.
… Let other nations adhere to the letter of the law and exact punishment, we will adhere to its spirit and meaning — the salvation and regeneration of the lost.