October 17, 2019
Ellen DeGeneres is condemned by the Hollywood left for being friends with Republican President George W. Bush and appearing with him in public. She is judged as a sell out to her beliefs. The brother of a man mudered by an off duty police officer in Texas offers the convicted officer forgiveness. Yet, the brother is judged swiftly on social media as doing the wrong thing by being too forgiving. In 2019, there is no shortage of people willing to judge others for actions as simple and gracious as offering a hand in friendship or offering an embrace of forgiveness. How can this be?
I recently performed a home visit and met an individual who, by first appearance, caused me to make a snap judgment. The decision was that this person, based solely on their appearance, would be a challenge to help and would never be able to keep a job. I made that genius observation without ever even speaking with this person. That's called being judgemental and it's the least Vincentian thing we do. Think about it-we do it all the time with people begging for help on a road side-"he must be crazy" or "she's probably a drug addict" are common things people often utter while trying to avert their gaze from the person in need. These comments are not intended to promote you giving money to every person on the side of the road asking for help. They are intended to simply make you think before making a snap judgment based on appearance and a false narrative that has been shared for years about such people. And yet I do the same thing.
Within minutes of meeting my friend in need on the home visit, I realized that the person had made some bad decisions in life but wanted to get on the right track for himself and his family. He had employable skills but just needed someone to help him along. Would he face challenges-yes. But as a Vincentian, our role is not to judge but help that person overcome those challenges. That's what we are called to do. I was reminded of this during the home visit and it clearly illustrates the mission of the Society of St VIncent DePaul.
"A network of friends, inspired by Gospel values, growing in holiness and building a more just world through personal relationships with and service to people in need.” My experience on the home visit showed me that I needed to coninue working on living out this mission. So whether it's judging people based on who their friends are, or who they are willing to forgive or what they look like-we should follow the words of St Vincent DePaul:
"Make it a practice to judge persons and things in the most favorable light at all times and under all circumstances."
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