Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The importance of getting ALL the facts...

There are many lessons that I can take from the situation which continues to unfold in front of me concerning our house and the state of my family. Not only financial lessons (what NOT to do), but also life lessons. One that has really come to the front right now is the importance of withholding judgment until one has sufficient evidence for both sides of the story. Obviously, here, you have my dad's case of why he feels that he needs to do this, but you also have my case and my mom's case of how difficult of a spot this puts us in. Not only that, but the emotional aspects tied to the house and the relationship status between my dad and all of us. I won't go into great details here because my point is not to publicize our disagreements and problems. I only wish to make a point about judging.

It's a word Christians hear a lot, in particular that it's something we should not do. It comes from the Savior's teachings in Matthew 7:1-2: "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. " It's a concept that Christians are familiar with, yet I've found few understand. It seems many believe that "not judging" means we cannot make decisions on people or things at all. But, as we all know, we have to make judgements every day on who we associate with or what we are going to do (among other things). Without judgments, we would never progress or learn. So, was Jesus trying to teach us that we shouldn't come to a decision? Hardly. What he is talking about is making improper judgments, or judgments without the full picture. This usually involves how we label people. The most common "judgments" I see around are more generalizations or oversimplifications we make about a person or group of people based on very little information or lack of experience. For instance, the idea that because someone is overweight it's because they're "lazy" or just "sit on their couch all day and eat junkfood." There are likely a variety of reasons why that person is overweight and unless we have a full look into how they actually live their life and all the things that affect them both phyiscally and mentally, labeling that person as "lazy" is an unrighteous judgment. While we can certainly make conjectures about why they may be overweight, we cross that line when we simply decide one is true and we condemn that person. There are other examples of unrighteous judgment too, of course. Sometimes in arguments it's easy to judge how someone is acting (or reacting) because we assume they are "just mean" or "hateful". In fact, it may be that we don't know something because of lack of experience, lack of understanding, or just ignorance of the history and background of that person. Sometimes too, we may simply just have one side of the story. So in reality, that person we think is "hateful" may actually have a wealth of experience that has caused them to not trust someone (or whatever the disagreement is over) and thus be perfectly justified in being upset.

OK, so how can we judge better? I'm OF COURSE not perfect, but I have found things that have helped me. It goes without saying that we need to get the whole story, especially when it involves two sides who disagree. That can involve asking people how and WHY they feel as such and truly being open to their responses. Being respectful of viewpoints and experiences is a big one too. It also involves being as fair as possible. This is a case where information from the Book of Mormon plays a key role in helping us to better understand what the Bible is trying to tell us. Moroni 7:15-18 gives us the counsel that not only are we to judge ourselves (we have to, like I said), but we are to do it with the "Spirit of Christ" (v. 16), also referred to as the "Light of Christ" (v. 18). The reason that God is able to judge us is because he is able to do it in perfect fairness. He knows all the sides of the argument, he knows the limitations or situational elements, and most of all he knows us; our tendancies, our strenghts, and our weaknesses. Through the Light of Christ, a power of discernment given to all of us, we can better judge not only right from wrong, but also who is right and who is in the wrong.

I am commenting on this in light of our current situation and judgments I feel are being made (some of which I have actually heard) about me or the situation in general. To the casual observer, it seems as though I and my mom should just "get on with life" and stop being so dependent. As I mentioned in my previous post, nothing would make me happier than being financially independent, but right now that is simply not possible. The same holds true for my mom; she is in this situation because she decided that raising her kids was her most important responsibility, followed by completing her college education, which she did in 2002. Now she is faced with an uncertain job market in art education and is relying on the unsteady pay (and lack of benefits) that comes with being a substitute teacher. Let's not forget SHE raised the four of us virtually solo with the financial help of my dad. Yes, my dad was hardly absent from my life, but it in no way compares with his role had he made different choices in his life and stayed a part of this family rather than pursue self-interests. I find it troubling and frustrating as well that the people who have security-- a place to live and a steady source of income-- are the ones telling me not to worry and that nothing is really wrong. Nothing will be wrong when I have an actual place to live (staying with someone is not living there) and some stability.

1 comment:

Becky said...

First of all, it's about time! I've been checking this page every day waiting for you to update! Aside from that, you make a logical arguement. Sometimes it's hard to step back and try to get all points of view, especially when you are one of the parties involved and feel so strongly about your own side. I think everyone has room for improvement in this area.