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Observations: Judging not

Published on: September 9, 2015

By MITCH TRAPHAGEN

It often seems that social media and Internet comment boards become places of free-for-all judgment fests. Nothing is sacred anymore. Except for cute cat photos. Everyone likes cute cat photos. Mitch Traphagen photo.

It often seems that social media and Internet comment boards become places of free-for-all judgment fests. Nothing is sacred anymore. Except for cute cat photos. Everyone likes cute cat photos. Mitch Traphagen photo.

We appear to have become a judgmental lot. Well, sure, the whole Victorian era had a lot of strict rules and such but at least they were, by and large, known, albeit unfairly applied in many cases. But somehow it seems we judge — and always with the complete confidence that our judgment is the right judgment — like never before.

We even look for reasons to judge, and hand-in-hand with that, we seem to look for reasons to be angry with those we judge as being different from us. Because everyone in that group is just plain wrong, of course.

I blame the Internet. Although it’s probably more than that. Perhaps we’re just becoming unpleasant people. But I honestly don’t for a moment believe that. Oh yes, there are definitely unpleasant people among us, but I don’t think that is what defines us. At least, they shouldn’t.

Unfortunately, I’m a perfect example. I don’t like to hear even casual mentions of people like Justin Bieber or the Kardashians. To be completely honest, I doubt I could pick out any of them in a police line-up and know as little as possible about them, yet I judge them. How fair is that? Not very.

But I suppose it’s one thing to talk celebrities and quite another to talk about religion or Constitutional issues. I have a fairly strong personal faith but I believe one thing is clear: the Founding Fathers most certainly said I have every right to that faith but I should not assume in the slightest that my religion is the right religion for America.

Gay marriage? By all means, be for or against … personally. But right now, in 2015, the law of the land states that Americans have the right to choose almost any other American to love, honor and marry. I have read the Bible and there isn’t a whole lot about gay marriage in it. There is a lot about judgment, though. And not doing it.

Oh, sure, those really excellent letters from Paul mentioned stuff on the fringe of homosexuality but more in the lines of telling people who proclaim to be Christians to stop throwing drunken, public orgies — that sort of stuff was making the whole religion look kinda bad (or, perhaps, kinda good if you were big on orgies, but pretty far from the tenets of the faith).

Regardless, the bottom line is that we are to love one another and try to be decent. And there are centuries of anthropological and sociological evidence that homosexuality has been around for a very long time. Yes, the science is pretty clear that it’s not a passing fad or a mere deviant choice, nor does it signal the end times, bringing the hellfire of God’s wrath upon us.

And speaking of which, I went through 16 years of public education, and I prayed often in those years, in one classroom after another. Not once was I challenged for doing so. God is most definitely allowed in the schools and classrooms. He just can’t be forced to be in there (that old, there is no right religion for America thing).

We judge people on their weight, their skin color, their appearance, what kind of job they have, how much money we believe they make, who they may love, how they spend their free time and, most vocally of late, it seems, their religion and their political beliefs.

In other words, perhaps a good number of us have far too much time on our hands.

Yet now all these words in, I realize that this column is not only somewhat pompous and self-righteous, it is also judgmental.

We are not sheep. We don’t have to blindly follow a political trend or worse, fall in line like good soldiers to our party. Americans don’t have to do that. We almost have a responsibility to NOT do that. We are all entitled to our own beliefs yet in the end, we are all Americans.

There is a refugee crisis happening right now in Europe. Millions of people are desperately searching for a semblance of a life. Not many people of privilege cared all that much, and fewer still did much, it seems. For me, it barely registered on my radar, which is cluttered with the modern-day, continuous force-fed diet of largely inane news headlined with “clickbait,” Facebook updates and tweets. It took a horrifically sad, gut-wrenching photograph of an innocent young child, drowned, and washed up on a beach, facedown, to galvanize the world.

On Sept. 6, the New York Times ran a series of stories on homeless people, who they were and how they fell into such despair. Their ages ranged from 30s to 70s and as I read many of the stories I realized that “There but for the grace of God go I.”

I cannot judge them. I should try to help them.

I cannot judge the refugees, or even those who turn a blind eye to them, for that was once me. And I still haven’t done anything to help — but I should. One of the best young men I’ve ever met is married to a man. I may not understand it entirely but I admire him and I admire his love for his spouse. I admire his dignity, integrity and his work ethic. He is a man as much as any I’ve known and I’m proud to know him. I personally do not believe that God judges them poorly for their love for each other.

Some people like a presidential candidate of whom I’m not fond. I cannot judge them — their reasons are their own and are as valid as mine are in opposition.

I sit in a position of privilege. I have a job, a home, a spouse and a refrigerator full of food. Should I judge, my faith says that Paul would have a few sharp words for me in a letter.

It seems these days too many of us don’t need drunken orgies to earn that sort of rebuke. But who am I to judge?

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by this newspaper or its owners.

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