Recently, a friend shared with me a story of his weekend spent volunteering with the Special Olympics. During the soccer matches members of the other team who were not challenged by any physical disabilities (both disable and non-disable players were in the game) apparently were challenged by understanding the purpose of the Special Olympics as they felt it necessary to use the avenue as an opportunity to show off their shooting techniques and run up the score. Today, I read a story of a coach who got in a fight with an 18 year-old Pee Wee referee because the referee had ejected the coach for cursing in front of his 5-6 year old players. As one of my coworkers said upon hearing these stories, “the world’s gone mad.”
What’s interesting to me about each of the stories is the perspectives that the chief actors must have had. Obviously the soccer players felt that their actions were appropriate for the setting even if they totally missed the purpose of the Special Olympics. Additionally, I’m guessing he Pee Wee coach felt his actions (both the cursing and the fighting) were entirely acceptable given the situation. If you asked any of these participants, they probably felt that their behavior was warranted and entirely justifiable. The fact that most dispassionate observers would disagree would probably not sway them. They probably figure that mere observers probably just couldn’t understand.
I think we all can get like that some times. It’s so easy to see a situation from our vantage point that it just seems to be the only view available. We believe that if others really understood it the way that we did, then they too would see things our way. The fact that they aren’t tarnished by emotional involvement only makes their analysis seem, well, analytical. We truly believe that our perspective is the right one.
Rarely though does one person have a monopoly on a given situation. Life on this Earth is filled with complex interactions each influenced by the history and experience of the individuals. Thankfully, our Judge is not tainted by these perceptions, however our relationships on Earth must be. We can’t be impartial, we can’t have a clear perception. We are all influenced by the person we choose to be.
Maybe that’s why God said “mercy triumphs over judgment!” (James 2:13) Granting mercy doesn’t require a perfect perceptive, bestowing judgment does.
Bypassing on judging the soccer players or the Pee Wee coach isn’t easy. Their actions seem so blatantly wrong. But extending mercy assures that we take one step away from becoming them.