In this era of instant access and full disclosure, we are flooded with stories of the shortcomings of others. When jumping online, we immediately are introduced to story after story of the failure of humanity. The mistakes and misconduct of celebrities as well as the relatively anonymous are advertised on Facebook, youtube, yahoo and various other outlets. From the scandalous accusations against a high-profile college football program to the momentary lapse in judgment of a local high-school youth, the depravity as well as the poor judgment of people is almost celebrated.
To consider these stories a “celebration” of the mistakes of others may seem too drastic, but is it? Don’t we rush to the stations or websites detailing the “real life” of others? Haven’t we become a society similar to the era of Roman citizens gathering in the coliseum to watch the death and manipulation of others? Weddings of “celebrities” with no talent other than the staging of their lives generate revenues as we are captivated for two months until the attraction has worn off and the divorce now takes center stage.
Through it all, we have become a society of judges. We view the news, reality shows and internet communities with a lens that filters the information so that we can form immediate opinions on who is right and who is wrong. We decide based on the fraction of information we are given access to who is “right” and who is “wrong” in a given situation. Then, with this freshly formed judgment, we engage in online debate and justification of our position.
Underneath it all is a comparison to us. We are allowed multiple opportunities every hour to find somebody more screwed up than us, as far as we can tell. As a result, we can rest in our own junk as justified by comparison. The judgments we pass validate our own shortcomings and, as a result, we settle. We settle for less than we were created to be because at least we are not as bad as them.
Judgment is a difficult burden and one that should not be taken lightly. The decisions we make when residing in our position as judge over the lives of others either in the media or in our own lives have consequences. The consequences are that for every “rule” we impose on the lives of others, we establish a standard that we must now keep or face the label of being a phony. So with each judgment as we think we know the whole story based on part of the information, there is another burden for us to uphold ourselves. As we pile on the judgments for those that around us, we take on the burdens of the judgments as weights to carry.
Once the burdens are too heavy and we realize that we really just can’t do the deal ourselves, then and only then do we find room for grace. In our own self-reflection we cry out for Grace to overwhelm us. We cry out to be relieved of the burdens of failure. We give up the facade of control for the relief of Grace and when we do, Grace will flow through us. When that happens, we view the news and stories of the weakness of others with a lens of compassion and comfort. That New lens will last as long as it is fostered with Truth and honesty of our need for Grace.