Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.
• Matthew 7:1
Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.
• Romans 2:1
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We live in judgmental times.
As Jonathan Haidt said in his invaluable book for these times, The Righteous Mind, “I chose the title The Righteous Mind to convey the sense that human nature is not just intrinsically moral, it’s also intrinsically moralistic, critical, and judgmental.”
Perhaps we are not more judgmental than in previous days, but our technology, freedom, and affluence have enabled us to be much more democratic and public in our judgments, outspoken about our opinions and positions in public forums. As a result, the air we breathe is filled with violence, not peace.
We raise our flags and wear our colors proudly these days, and are unafraid to shout down the other army and its soldiers. We are not often heeding the call of Romans 12:18 — “If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
Violence — inner, spoken, attitudinal, expressed — too often marks how we relate to each other.
Father Stephen Freeman reminds us that one purpose of Lent is to call us to peace by forsaking the violence of judgmentalism.
…If my generation was angry about peace, today we are angry about everything. The battleground within is strewn with the dead bodies of those whom we imagine being against us. No holocaust of violence could ever cleanse the world and bring peace to the heart. None of our projects will make the world a better place. The world is the projection of the human heart, and little more.
It is this very battlefield that the Lenten path to Pascha asks us to see.
“Grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother…”
So we pray as we repeat the prayer of St. Ephrem. Everything we see (or imagine we see) in those we judge is present within our own heart. It is only when we know that this is true that repentance can begin and the battle turn towards God’s favor.
Without repentance, every public display of outrageous violence only provokes us to more violence within. The mind races to fix blame and argue solutions. Repentance would, I think, produce silence, as we confronted the shame that the latest carnage should provoke in us all….
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Photo by Mark Freeth at Flickr. Creative Commons License