How We Make Determinations About Each Other

I saw a headline yesterday that read “Republicans are Having A Meltdown Over Bradley Cooper’s Presence at the DNC.”

Cooper starred as US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in the movie American Sniper. Apparently many conservatives assumed Cooper was a Republican because the film reflects a conservative worldview.  Or so I am told; I did not see the film. (The only reason I know the little I know is that one of the students in my Heroes and Heroism seminar last year presented on Kyle.)

I have no idea whether Bradley Cooper is a Democrat or a Republican, and I don’t really care.  I don’t know if he was at the DNC because he wanted to be to be there or because he was accompanying someone else who really wanted to be there.  And that is precisely the point: I don’t know.  I don’t know Bradley Cooper.

But some no small number of people apparently thought they knew Cooper and his political leanings based on a role he played in a movie.  Think about that – they assumed they knew he shared their worldview because of a single movie role.

On its face, that sounds pretty absurd.  But don’t we do that sort of thing all the time?  We assume we know people based on the flimsiest of evidence.  We observe a single thing they say or do and form judgments about them based on it.  We claim to know exactly what someone is like because they did or did not do something we liked or didn’t like.  Or we know what their position on X must be because we saw them talking to someone else who has a position on X.

Maybe we need to develop a little more comfort staying in the “I don’t know” zone, and refrain from making judgments about each other that lack sufficient basis.  If we do, we just might be able to get to know each other a bit more.



3 thoughts on “How We Make Determinations About Each Other

  1. Dear Susan, thanks again!
    I need to keep reminding myself – that there is no me or them – there is only “us”.

  2. “I need to keep reminding myself – that there is no me or them – there is only ’us’.”

    In this morning’s second reading, the second paragraph (Colossians 3:9-11) speaks to Bonnie’s comment above, “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.” –USCCB

    Where can the ‘us’ most often be found that Bonnie speaks of?

    Republican ‘meltdowns’ erupting often from the dichotomy of perfunctory observation and from asserting to know the heart of another have been experienced by many – so have similar meltdowns by the progressive left and by far too many a shepherd claiming to ‘Live Truth, Live Catholic.’

    I experienced one of my most exhausting weeks ever, collapsing in shear exhaustion the moment I returned home at 4:30 PM Friday afternoon – more than a full week’s work of preparing production drawings for current projects, wrapped concurrently in unexpected recognition and praise for so many new visions created to enhance and bring neighborhood and community closer together through design. Recognition accompanied by new invitations to contribute further vision and design – and with each unexpected new invitation, an equally unexpected invitation to ‘donate’ time and expertise to those struggling and in need, in life and in business. Each smile of gratitude radiating from within me was matched with invitations to ‘serve’ radiating from the smiles Jesus’ offered. The fulcrum of life was balanced perfectly – recognition matched with need . . .

    Exhaustion lingered and Saturday morning Mass was experienced compliments of EWTN.

    The homily, an all too familiar awkward awakening. Sinners all are we (especially politicians and leaders) who espouse to be Catholic in word and not action. We are sinners all for not condemning and devoting all our strength, effort and words to legally ban abortion, uphold the church’s teaching against artificial contraception, against divorce with not acceptations, return marriage to between only a man and a woman, declare those transgender as choosing to sinfully defile the temple of their body, and the list goes on.

    We sinners are to believe and accept The ‘Truth’ rests only with Holy Mother Church and The Church must call out the ‘sinners’ among us. Rest assured The Church proclaims, The Church hierarchy and Magisterium do not condemn, but offer the full mercy and love of God that through adherence to dogma and beliefs promises the only ‘True’ path of salvation. . .

    Who amongst ‘us’ can with certainty call anyone a ‘sinner’?

    I have designed and been involved in the building of nearly a thousand residential and commercial projects, worked closely with thousands of owners, suppliers, contractors and craftsmen – and only one person could be called inherently evil – only one. . .

    And yes I have sat across table, on jobsite, public place, their home and mine from hundreds, just like each of us, who have and continue to suffer physically, financially, emotionally, and mentally with habit, addiction and abuse.

    Have words and actions mine, theirs, ours, offended and hurt others? Often repeatedly offended and hurt others? Yes! And yes!!

    Who has the right to call anyone a sinner? Ask a priest what mortal sins, and their frequency, that they hear in confession and offer absolution for. The high percentage of divorced marriages do not equate to percentages of infidelity. Adultery and remarriage may equate. And in limited and in certain circumstances remarriage is a blessing for both divorced and her / his children. Theft is ‘all’ too common, though felony theft accounts for only a small percentage.

    What other sins stand out? Many in Church authority continually proclaim most of secular society has sold its soul for material possession and wealth and for pleasure to satisfy human desire and lust.

    Give me a break. How many people do you know who are totally consumed with material pleasure and because of such evil proclivity should be called sinners? Is society a sinful place, a place ‘filled’ with sin, is our world? Is there more evil in the world than generosity and goodness?

    Temptation? Yes. Evil? . . .

    Does Holy Mother Church and society, including secular society, share the same universe? Multimedia, including religious multimedia, put as much, if not more, effort forth to point out that which divides and castigates (condemns) than it does to show the good works performed across all of society silently and with humility – seeking not praise or recognition- that are continual examples of Christ’s presence in the world.

    Why has Holy Mother Church embraced the ‘business’ of sin?

    1. Do many of faith have false gods?
    2. How many who swear too frequently exhibit bad habit rather than blaspheme?
    3. Mass and church services are not attended as faith(s) recommend / require. Where does fault truly rest?
    4. How many regularly do not honor their parents, their elders, those in positions of authority?
    5. How many have killed? How many intentionally harm others physically or emotionally?
    6. How many commit adultery within a first marriage? Sexual intimacy within a second marriage and pre-marriage is frequent. How much of sexual intimacy is without committed love? All? No. Though not enough. . .
    7. How many commit felony theft?
    8. How many bear false witness with malice? More despicable behavior should be curtailed – social media benefits more than it harms, though abuses continue at alarming frequency.
    9. How many truthfully covet another’s wife? Desire’s fantasy often stirs temptations, though how often does fantasy and desire lead to recognizable sin?
    10. How many truthfully covet another’s goods, etc.? Does affection towards material possessions lead directly to sin? Much more a diversion and temptation from more virtuous pursuits.

    Too many of Holy Mother Church’s shepherds need to look in the mirror themselves before proclaiming the sinful nature of another. When Jesus encountered the prostitute in John 8: 10-11 “Jesus finally straightened up and said to her, ’Woman where did they all disappear to? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one sir’ she answered. Jesus said, ‘Nor do I condemn you. You may go. But from now on avoid this sin.’”

    What blessed moments would be experienced when more shepherds voice not continual condemnation from the pulpit. Rather when encountering their flocks in church, or better yet in community, in voice proclaim, “Just grateful to see you” or “Grateful that you are part of my life.”

    I pray continually for the many bishops, priests and religious (like those who gathered around Governor Mike Pence to be part of the photo opportunity when he signed into law Indiana’s Religious Freedom Bill last April 3rd) who profess to KNOW the hearts of those who believe and live lives differently than their beliefs profess.

    From Susan’s thoughtful post Thursday. . .

    “The kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away.”

    “I spent some time praying with this parable at my retreat last summer. Unlike some of the other parables of the kingdom, I had a difficult time with this one for a long time. And I realized it was because I resisted the idea of anyone being thrown away from God. So I saw it in two possible ways:”

    “First, we are the net of fish – and the bad fish represent our bad qualities or non-virtues that get tossed away or the temptations of the enemy spirit that are gone when the kingdom reigns.”

    “Second I saw me as the fisherman and the good fish as people I can help and the bad ones as fish that need to be left to others.”

    “I was comfortable with those as well as with the image of the net being thrown into the sea and catching fish of every kind – i.e. will reach everywhere and everything; the Kingdom of God will be omnipresent.”

    I continue to struggle. . .

    How can we throw anyone away? How can we, when can we, turn away from any of our brothers and sisters? We are not called to continually beret and attempt to reform all hearts – though we are called to, through love and example, be Christ like during every encounter no matter how difficult or trying the moment. We are invited by Jesus to not turn our eyes, our body and especially not turn our hearts away from anyone.

    We are the ones ‘held to account’ when Jesus presents each encounter as an invitation to be His presence. What justification can be declared when we close our hearts? We are too busy, too exhausted, too depleted from all previous efforts to serve that appeared having little or no effect?

    On Wednesday Susan’s post also challenged. “We Need to Take Ownership of Our Acts.” Amen. . .

    One day we will. We will stand before God. What are the consequences if we wait until that moment?

    When we walk with the Lord, Jesus’ expression or words (through the Holy Spirit) often caution, seldom condemn. ‘Is this what you have done?’ ‘Are you considering doing (fill in the blank)?’

    ‘Yes, Lord.”

    And The Lord’s questions continue. . .

    Our answers often torturous, as our thoughts are known before they are formed, let alone expressed fully.

    In short time and often with exasperation we soon proclaim, ‘Lord, can we take a break? Answering your questions is so difficult.’

    ‘Yes we can’

    ‘Thank you Lord. For how long.’

    ‘As long as you wish.’

    ‘As long?’

    ‘As long’

    At that moment our minds often begin to race and silently we often express. ‘We may continue our conversation at another time, though hopefully later than sooner.’

    Are we surprised when Jesus gently exclaims, ‘We will continue our conversation.’

    Again in silence, ‘We may, though most assuredly I will not bring up this difficult topic again.’

    Surprised and shaken are we to hear, ‘I assure you, we will discuss this topic gain, and if you choose not the time, I will.’

    Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, invites us to open our hearts multiple time each new day. How much is placed at risk if our hearts remain closed until the moment we stand before God to make a full accounting of our earthly life?

    How often do we declare with an open heart? I am . . . “just grateful to see you.”

    Often enough?

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