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I‘ve Got a Right
By: Rachelle Hamlin
Fort Fairfield Journal, June 11, 2014
Since the book I’m OK, You’re OK hit the bookstores in the 1970’s, it became impolite for anyone to criticize another person. I never read the book or met anyone who read it, but I noticed that free speech took a body slam after that time. I loved the idea of seeing everyone as OK and I already knew that I was OK. (Who needed to tell me that, eh?) Pretty soon churches began to preach (1980’s) that we ought to see Christ in each other and treat each other with Lordly respect. Hmmm. Good thinking, I thought. Yeah, but try to do it.
It’s thirty something years later, thirty years of me trying it on as a lifestyle. Kids… it does leave room for improvement on the philosophy level and since you grew up without knowing that free speech once abounded in gorgeous and outrageous spoken frankness, it may surprise you to find out that I am not OK and neither are you. You who are forty or under never lived in the uncultured, retro world of base truths. Used to be that anyone with an opinion on anything was free to speak their mind on it anywhere and anyhow. How about applying I’m OK, You’re OK to someone who has just insulted your integrity in vile words in a local newspaper. In the old days, that was OK if true; subject to imprisonment or fine if it was libel. Frankly, this was all done in the shared pursuit of public and private integrity.
Dad, how is it working out for you with your kids? Good job on that F, hope you’ll do better next semester. Mom, how is it working out for you? Thanks for mowing that lawn for us, dear. I didn’t know where you keep your lawn gear so I tucked the stuff behind the garage for you if you should need it. Kids, is it working for you? Mom, you’re the greatest. Is there any food in the kitchen? I haven’t eaten today. Pastor, good sermon. Sorry I slept in my bench. You see, one of the principal principles of co-dependent behavior is that we trade favors. I will overlook your faults if you will overlook mine. These are skin-deep dynamics. Inside we are throwing wood on the fire of buried emotions. We can feel like idiots walking on a tightrope of household politics and that is, because we are. Truth has vanished from our lives.
My deceased brother Roger was a vigilant prophet with a favorite saying, “Never judge!” Thanks to his intense judgments against judging I was forced to the Bible for G-d’s opinion. There I discovered that the ancients rarely spoke about judgment without combining it with the word justice. In the OT, judgment and justice were fraternal twins. Every correct judgment carried justice with it like two sides of a coin – one thing with two faces. We can pervert justice through false witness but true judgments create a just society. Judgment is not optional. It must operate in order to extend justice to all.
A maxim in Law says: Let the judges answer to the question of law, and the jurors to the matter of fact. In normal life, first someone must present their judgment, then others must judge that judgment as to its justice. If it is just, it will bring peace to a situation. A father might judge that his child’s F warrants a forced study period. If he is right, his child and wife, as jurors, should agree as a matter of fact. This would create justice for parents, teachers and children, as well as peace and freedom from fears. The child stands to benefit most from the father’s common sense, otherwise known as strict judgment.
We think we are so advanced with our well-developed sense of political correctness but it’s not a new idea. Shakespeare wrote, “Forbear to judge for we are sinners all.” Speaking for judging, Cyrus wrote; “He hurts the good who spares the bad.” In balance Goethe wrote, “One man’s word is no man’s word; we should quietly hear both sides.” President Garfield wrote that the right to private judgment is absolute in every American citizen. He correctly calls judgment a right of citizenship… our vote, yes or no. St. Paul declared that judgment must begin at the house of G-d. This is backed up by presenting G-d himself as a judge, the ultimate One who will approve or disapprove of how we act in this life.
In France, Joubert wrote that justice is “truth in action” and here Emerson told us that only justice can satisfy us. An ancient Chinese source, Confucius, wrote “Justice is like the north star which is fixed, and all the rest revolves around it.” Millennia later George Eliot wrote, “Who shall put his finger on the word of justice and say ‘It is there’? It is not outside of us as a fact; it is within us as a great yearning.”
Amen to that! So here’s what I learned: Speak boldly in favor of justice that establishes truth, making loving judgments so that life can improve for everyone.
Present society reacts to your disapproval by instant disapproval of you. Why should a hint of disapproval trigger howling rages of disapproval? It’s because of the insanity behind the idea that all actions and ideas are created equal, when a Holy G-d has already passed judgment on them. Justice and truth demand an honest tongue, and let what is damned, be damned.
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