OFF CENTRE: Judging this, judging that!
By Sherwyn Walters | Tue, July 10, 2012 - 12:00 AM
IT SEEMS that most human beings just want to sit in judgement of others.
But we don’t talk very much about our own lives.
(Well, some – men, in particular – essay to give a stroke by stroke commentary on their sexual adventures.
I don’t mean that. I mean self-assessment of our attitudes, moral temper, our engagement of others, our struggles – our outside-the-bed (or car or wherever) lives. One big void.
But wherever you are, it is not long before loose mouth meets willing ears and not only spills the beans on somebody’s supposedly erring ways but goes on at length and in harshly condemning fashion about the person and the behaviour.
And from my observations, this talk has no meaningful objective.
After we judge, what then?
We are not planning to tgoughtfully embark on an effort to change mindsets.
We are not planning any genuinely redemptive engagement of the matter or the person – basically, we are just washing our mouths on others and indulging a sense of our own superiority.
A major talking point these days is homosexuality – who is engaging in it and how bad it is. But what is the point of our carrying on about it?
After you have named names and spit on people’s lives, where does that leave you? Holier than thou?
Now, let me make it clear that I think homosexuality is wrong and I don’t practise it – I too love sex wid my wife. But my role as a human being is not principally to share opinions or judge others. My biggest task is to live appropriately, even if in my opinion others aren’t. I have to keep any number of other moral insurgents at bay – for example, adultery, dishonesty, wastefulness, selfishness, arrogance, divisiveness, gossiping, irresponsibility, unkindness, inconsiderateness, malice, envy – many of which probably have more potential than homosexuality for widespread damage to others.
The big question in the midst of others’ erring is, how do we live with them? If they are part of a “covenant” community (for instance, a church, a family) there may be demands we can make and actions we can take in pursuance of compliance, but otherwise, unless they are breaking the law in this free society, our own fallibility should incline us to non-sanctimonious, some might say tolerating, engagements.
Since many here say Barbados is a Christian country, what is there to learn from Jesus’ engagement of those on the other side of the tracks? The prostitutes? The t’iefing tax collectors (“publicans”)? The “winebibbers”? The Samaritans? The “sinners”?
Did He spend lots of time talking about their moral waywardness (if yuh want to learn a word, then turpitude could take the place of waywardness)? De Man just used to mix with them – more engager than judge, it seems to me.
Not everybody might have the appetite or aptitude for that kind of thing, but washing yuh mouth on them is no substitute.
But if yuh want something to engage to some good effect, take up this case however you can: The last SATURDAY SUN reported the case of 80-something-year-old pensioner Ithiel Adams, of Hinds Hill, Cave Hill, who can’t seem to get any justice.
Two years ago, a car overturned outside his property, damaging the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) meter. The BWA has since been insisting (while threatening disconnection) that Mr Adams pay over $400 for the damage to the meter. He went to the office, got his niece to write the Authority, even asking for the meter to be moved.
The Authority wrote back inter alia: “The charge is legitimate and cannot be withdrawn as requested”. And more: “It was determined that [the meter] is appropriately located and does not need to be moved.”
Mr Adams tried the Fair Trading Commission. They can’t do anything. He tried the Public Counsel. Same story. He tried Ombudsman Valton Bend, with the niece reporting that he advised non-payment and promised to write the BWA on the matter.
“On June 20,” the SATURDAY SUN reported, “an anxious and frustrated Adams paid the bill in full to avoid being disconnected.”
Up to Saturday’s press time, Mr Adams was still waiting for justice and good sense to prevail.
Get on a moral high horse and judge that. And act!
Sherwyn Walters is a writer who became a teacher, a song analyst, a broadcaster and an editor.
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