We should judge who we are now, not what we did then

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 10, 2019

Smug self-righteousness may be the death of our society soon.

We’re fast becoming the most judgmental hypocrites imaginable.

In the latest overly critical drama, the nation has become embroiled in a tug of war with issue of race and youthful stupidity.

In Virginia, the governor is under fire for a photo from his college yearbook, depicting two people, one in blackface, the other in a Ku Klux Klan costume.

The governor denies he’s in the photo, but acknowledged he did dress in blackface to portray singer Michael Jackson.

He’s apologized for that lapse in judgment.

Late last week, political mud began flying in Mississippi on a related front. News surfaced that the current Mississippi lieutenant governor and candidate for governor may have been involved in a college fraternity party that was rebuked by the college after racist complaints were made.

No evidence, at least at this point, exists that the lieutenant governor was directly involved or even pictured in the image of dozens of fraternity members dressing as soldiers for the Confederacy.

Subsequent to that discovery a similar image appeared of the other governor’s race frontrunner. In that image, fraternity members were dressed in blackface and a white sheet. The candidate has denied being in the photograph or knowing anything about it.

Clearly dressing in black face is racist, period. America should have no place for such behavior.

But it doesn’t mean the people who did it are truly racist now, up to three decades later. They may have simply been stupid, drunken college kids.

Remember in the 1980s and 1990s, Ole Miss still proudly celebrated the Confederacy with the use of the Confederate battle flag at football games and many high school marching bands played “Dixie” as part of their halftime shows.

It was another time and one that Mississippi has mostly gotten past.

But that doesn’t stop people from ripping the opposing candidate’s heads off on television and on social media.

Likely some of the most vicious critics will purport to be Christians, but ripping someone apart wasn’t a commandment from God. Instead Jesus asked us to love one another, not judge each other.

Remember the story in the Bible from the book of John 7?

As a quick refresher, Jesus was teaching in the temple, when a group brought forth a woman they accused of being an adulterer.

They asked Jesus if she should be stoned to death as the Old Testament proclaimed.

Jesus said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

The accusers, no doubt reflecting on their own past sins, slowly walked away until no accuser was left.

Consider what our world would be like today if by some divine act our latest — or worst — sins were simply written on our foreheads.

Imagine how much less judgmental we all might be if our own dirty laundry were front and center in every, single introduction made.

No, we all like to throw rocks.

Somehow it’s cathartic to see that others are worse than you.

But that’s all highly destructive to our own identity and to our fellow man (and woman).

The self-righteous shall fall harder than the most humble when their own sins are exposed.

Just like the people in biblical times who dragged the adulteress to Jesus, when we all truly look inward and are honest with ourselves, we’ll likely find:

We are all sinners.

We have all fallen short.

We all need forgiveness.

That’s true whether you’re just a normal, everyday person, or a person in the highest offices of leadership.

Let’s judge one another for who we are now, not what we did in our past.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.