This is the week that Donald Trump was acquitted of charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress by a Republican Senate so cowed by his bullying that they are willing to empower him to shred the very document that they have sworn to protect and defend. He has now claimed total vindication and is completely untethered from any real or perceived limitations on his self-enriching, autocratic, vindictive tendencies.
The concept of judgment has been on my mind a lot lately. Why are people so reluctant to judge? Why do we assume that we shouldn’t be judged by others? Why do we condemn people who judge? And why do we reject our responsibility to examine the words and actions of our elected leaders and to form opinions about their character?
Coincidentally, judging came up just yesterday in a conversation with my friend “Cynthia.” Cynthia supports the president (yes, it is still possible to have friends on the other side of the political spectrum), and our conversation was in the context of his idiotic rambling speech about wind. She defended him, once again — this time by saying that not everyone has the gift of oration and after all, aren’t we all misunderstood from time to time? She went on to say that in spite of all she’s seen and heard from him, she didn’t and couldn’t know what’s in his mind or in his heart. And then: “Who am I to judge?“
Last weekend, like so many other people in so many cities and towns across the country, I attended a vigil to remember the murdered victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and to add my voice to the other voices raised against hate and bigotry. The program was filled with more than twenty speakers: leaders from different faiths from all over our region stood to offer support and share their thoughts on the tragic event: leaders of the Muslim faith, Jewish faith, and Catholics, and Christians of many different denominations. They shared stories. They read from scripture. They asked us to pray for the victims and their families. And they asked us to pray for healing and for peace.
And as I sat and listened to them speak, I honestly found no solace in their words. I heard no hope. Reverend Steve from the Episcopal Church told us that he (of course) prays every day. In the last few years, he said, he has added “Please let there be no mass shooting today” to his daily litany of prayer. “Most days, God answers my prayers” he said. “But not every day.”