From my 2/26 article at WorldMag.com:
Driving to work earlier this week I exited the freeway and pulled up behind a minivan sporting a Penn State University sticker. My first thought was “You don’t see many of those in Tennessee” followed by “Why would anyone have a Penn State sticker on their car?” My reaction wasn’t because I grew up in Minnesota rooting for another Big Ten team. It was because of what I wrote about in my very first article for WORLD Digital.
In 2011, Jerry Sandusky, a long-time highly successful football coach at PSU was convicted of multiple counts of sexual abuse of young boys. The case brought severe sanctions on the team, ruined the legacy of head coach Joe Paterno, and tainted the school’s reputation. When I saw the sticker that was what I revolted against. Within seconds, though, it dawned on me how unfair that reaction was. Penn State is not Jerry Sandusky, football, or evil. It is so much more. Maybe this van driver was a proud alum or parent. Maybe he worked hard to get through school to earn a degree there. Maybe he roots for the seven-time national champion women’s volleyball team.
What does it say about me that my first reaction was revulsion? It says I was judgmental. I deemed the entire school and all associated with it as guilty because of the sins of a few. It says I lacked nuance in my thinking. Even a little consideration would have been enough to think of positive reasons this driver might have had that sticker, but I instead jumped to a conclusion. And it says I simply didn’t have the whole story. I lacked context.
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Here are questions we should ask ourselves to gauge motives and the state of our own hearts:
- Do I know the whole story, or might there be more to it?
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- Do I know if restitution has been made or restoration has happened?
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- If I were on the other side how would I want to be treated? We’re often too proud to put ourselves in the culprit’s shoes, but we should. Aside from God’s grace we are all culprits.
- Do I feel superior? If we begin to feel better than another person, like we have the right to judge, like we are morally above them, we have gone wrong.
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