As with all Americans, the events of the past week have been much on my mind. It has been an emotional time, bringing even greater heartbreak to a nation already hurting from a pandemic we could not have anticipated nor avoided.
So much has already been said–some of it helpful in finding a pathway forward toward peace and justice, some of it angry rhetoric that is meant to incite rather than heal. I thought long and hard about what I could, or should, add that would help at all. Perhaps getting to the heart of the matter, at least from my own perspective is a good start.
Jesus warns us not to judge lest we ourselves be judged. But at some time or another we are all put in a situation where we are called upon to render judgment. For instance, when I owned a small business, I was in a position to hire employees. In doing so I had to evaluate their qualifications and character and decide who would be best for the job. I tried to do so fairly and objectively. Judges, teachers, producers, and yes, parents, are all called upon to pass judgment over and over again. That is their job…and their responsibility.
However, there is another type of judgment that is never okay. And it has been prevalent from the beginning of time. That is prejudgment, when we judge someone without even knowing them or anything about them as an individual. We look at where they work, the neighborhood in which they live, the clothes they wear (a uniform perhaps), the color of their skin, the way they speak. And we render judgment. We assume something we have no right to assume, no way of knowing…their background, character, intentions, thoughts and what is in their hearts.
Assigning characteristics to any group of individuals is not only wrong, it is totally inaccurate–and extremely dangerous to us as a society. We have seen that played out over and over again, not just in America but in countries all over the globe. Until we learn to let go of preconceived notions of how another person may act, we will never get passed this problem and move on to a lasting peace where justice, not prejudgment can prevail.
We can’t like everybody…but before we decide we do not, let’s take the time to get to know them first. That’s fair enough, don’t you think?