It would be a lie if I told you I wasn’t judge-y. I judge people according to what they wear, where they live, what they drive, and where they went to college (or when/if they didn’t go to college.) If I see a group of women wearing sweater sets and pearls, I judge them differently from a group of women wearing RBG t-shirts and pearls.
I’m aware of this and I’m working on it, but it’s really hard in these contentious days.
Julie Irwin Zimmerman wrote recently in The Atlantic regarding the story about the Covington Catholic High School kids and the Native Americans at the Indigenous Peoples March last weekend:
(It) “is a Rorschach test—tell me how you first reacted, and I can probably tell where you live, who you voted for in 2016, and your general take on a list of other issues—but it shouldn’t be.”
She’s totally right. Those of us who judge the high school students to be ignorant and racist are probably progressive politically. Those of us who judge the high school students to be normal teenagers trying to diffuse the tension while different protesters who yelling epithets are probably conservative politically. We are quick to judge. Just read the Twitter feeds about this incident.
I myself was immediately appalled at the smirk on the young MAGA hat-wearing student’s face. It felt like my heart was being impaled as he appeared to mock the older man.
Walt Whitman offers a remedy: Be Curious, Not Judgmental.
Whether I meet someone wearing a hoodie or someone wearing a Burberry coat, whether I observe a person pulling up in a BMW convertible or a rusted out sedan, whether I know someone lives in a multi-million dollar home in Charlotte’s “best neighborhood” or in transitional housing in Charlotte’s “worst neighborhood”, whether someone went to Stanford or to the local community college, I need to be curious about that specific individual person. God created each of us unique and extraordinary. It’s an affront to God when we think we know someone based on appearances.
Embracing curiosity rather than judgment seems essential if we hope to pull together as The Church, as Americans, as Global Citizens. Our culture and our very humanity are being torn apart by our differences. We barely take the time to know someone’s story before condemning them to otherness.
I for one could be a lot less judge-y. My humanity depends upon it and it’s not too early to be thinking about future Lenten practices. Also Jesus.
If only we all could ignore the societal pressures to judge and boost our core belief systems, and turn all that energy into growing our hearts for Christ. In the end, it is about eternal life.
I’ve chosen my shelf of Henri Nouwen books to re-read for Lent. His calming voice of faith helps me with clarity and peace in these days of distractions.