We hear often when one is trying to say something out of the ordinary, he or she would often end the sentence with, “Don’t judge me!” What does that mean? I am still struggling to find out what that really means and how it is actually practiced. It seems like even though we want a more compassionate, accepting, and tolerant society, as soon as we do not get what we want or when we do not get our ways, we begin to shame one another. We have, often times, become so vocal and reactive, very negative and demanding so that we can let everyone around us know what we really are thinking or wanting.
Is that really the message of compassion, acceptance, respect, or tolerance that we are really trying to preach? I hate to be pessimistic, but it seems like our post-modern world like to say many things, talk much about changes, show that we can become something better, but at the end of the day, everyone just remains indifference because they are only self-serving, temporary, or lip-service based. Let me give you an example that I often see when I go out to dinner or lunch with my friends or parishioners who have young children or babies.
First, let us recognize that we talk much about family values and how special are children. We like a lot of cute babies and children videos and pictures. However, as soon as those babies and children become an inconvenience to our plan, we quickly give the evil eye, disgusted look, and visual dissatisfaction.
I have many friends and parishioners who have young ones. They are trying their best to take care of their children but each of them has their own different personalities. Sometimes, they get bored easily, throw a tantrum, or even out of control when we go to eat. I have seen the dissatisfaction and judging look from many people, young and old alike. They do not like their meal disturbed! Some even said very mean things to the parents, ranging from how they are entitled to their meal without disturbances to how these parents should not have (many) children if they cannot handle them.
This is totally different from the culture that I grew up with, and perhaps very much shared and similar to many around the world as well. If the similar situations would have happened in those places, you would see older grandparents or even young children come forward to lend a hand. There is a sense of communal support and understanding instead of indifference and judgmental because one deserves, demands, or expects this or that! We like something if it is entertaining or appealing without becoming an inconvenience to us. We like to stand afar and be detached from the messiness, judge, and have no problem looking down on others who are not like us than to step out of our little bubbles to be a neighbor. We tend to hold ourselves on a pedestal, looking down on others, than to step down from it in order to be with them.
I have seen it in church, too! Parents with young children, special need people, or someone out of the ordinary always get looked upon. Sometimes, I ask, why those who are dissatisfied cannot step out of their pews or little spaces and lend a hand, be a brother and sister, or at least be a Christian to those who are in need? It is too easy to judge, to shame, or to be indifference. Yet, at the end of the day, we all remain in our own little selves, frustrated, angry, agitated, without compassion, mercy, patience, respect, love, or any other important Christian virtues that we are called to practice. We pout and get puffed up without being caring! We take things on social media and in real life verbally, typing or speaking away, giving dissatisfactory signs or gestures, yet remain as we are to our little demanding, expecting, and indifference egos.
We cannot even speak to each other anymore without worrying about what other people will say about us, worrying about being attacked, afraid of being unpopular or different. What we lack are nowadays are fundamental respect and the foundational magnanimity! The egoistic self had become too small and fragile, too self-centered, individualistic, and scared that it cannot truly communicate through proper dialogue and communication. We only care about ourselves and put up with others as long as they are not in our way, do not outshine us, not an inconvenience, or become a disturbance to us. This is what kills our society, deafen the truth and silence the desire for something greater. We are only living in a facade-like, pseudo-society of uncaring, selfish, scared, individualistic, petty-minded, and indifferent people. How does this fake society make sure that it shows that it is doing something with fake “progress”? It constantly talks, churns out senseless ideologies, attacks one another, speaks much about revolutions and changes, demanding progress, yet remain the same, empty and meaningless.
However, we can undo these falsehoods and rise above the fakeries by seeking to do what Christ asked of us. We can all be who we are instead of simply speaking about them! It gives me joy when I see our parishioners offer help to one another, reach out to those who are new or need assistance, and be a brother or sister to those who are around them. Is it hard? Yes! Yet, this is what Christ asks of us! He did not ask us just to speak about things but put into practice, by our own life and deeds, words and actions, to what He had taught us with His own life.
We can remain indifference and continue on with the shaming culture that we had created for ourselves, just like those who chose to spoke against the truth, those who stood by, those who ignored, and those who abandoned the Lord Jesus Christ when He bore the Cross. Nevertheless, the Lord chose to die for us, even those who did not recognize what we were doing are wrong so that we might have a chance to change our attitude, convert and return back to His loving grace. When we choose to die to ourselves, we free ourselves from the false fears, anxieties, demands, and expectations that society or our fragile ego had created for themselves in order to live for the Lord.
What we need in this world is not more “teachers” and people who want to pontificate their ideas of progress but living saints and witnesses who dare to die to themselves as to live in Christ. We need more people who are courageous enough to live and practice the Christian values given to us through the Gospel. Our world would become better when we worry less about how hurt or frustrated we are because we do not get our ways by becoming more magnanimous and Christ-centered. We can all choose, and I hope we can all choose Christ and His loving truth for all humanity by how we live our lives.