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Dare Not To Judge

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Going off of my previous article regarding human acceptance, below is a poem I wrote several years ago highlighting consequential behavior regarding what can sometimes happen when we shun those that are different from us.

We all know from our history lessons in school that the Holocaust was one of the greatest human tragedies in history. It was of the most gruesome, and tragic, result of what can happen when we judge someone because of their differences.

Around six million Jewish people from several different countries were slaughtered in inhumane ways throughout the late 1930s and 1940s. Hitler theorized that the Jewish people were threats that needed to be eliminated. He despised them for who they were and what they did. They were judged harshly, humiliated, and killed simply for who they were both spiritually, and biologically.

The few that were able to open their eyes to this madness, refusing to judge these people, found themselves targeted as well. We all recall the true tales found within the famous book, The Diary of Anne Frank, where her Jewish family, as well as others, almost survived because of the grace and humility of non-Jewish shop owners who risked their lives to protect and hide them.

There were thousands of people, just like these shop owners, that refused to believe in Hitler's opinions of the Jewish people, and vowed never to judge these people. They saw the Jewish people just like they looked at their own neighbors, friends or family members. They saw them as human beings, people that had a lot to offer to society, people that had neighbors, friends and families just like them. They were people who may have had different religious beliefs, but it never prevented them from treating those around them with dignity and respect, or made them treat one person differently from the rest.

Those thousands of people saw this and thought "if they can treat me with the same amount of respect that they would treat another, or that I would treat someone, why should I treat them any differently because of who they are?"

A classic Biblical example of this comes from the book of Mark where Jesus was found eating with tax collectors, those that were considered some of the lowest of the low during Biblical times.

"Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” Mark 2:13 - 17

Jesus, like the thousands that saved members of the Jewish community, broke cultural boundaries and community rules to make a point. He did not look at tax collectors and other members of the community that did similar things any differently than those that followed him. If he did, and wanted to judge these sinful people, he would not have made it a point to eat with them. He loves everyone, no matter who they are, and he then had come to call together all people to follow him.

We, as humans, are not worthy enough for God and we are all sinners. But, it is by his love and grace that despite that, he still wants all of us. He doesn't call together the righteous, he calls together the sinners: Us. All of us.

Keeping that in mind, Jesus's refusal to judge the tax collectors for who they were, by community definition, brings about one key point for us: If we are all sinners, and Jesus loves us no matter what, why should we then judge others who seem different from us if Jesus wouldn't do it?

Returning to the original topic of the Holocaust, below is the poem I wrote to recap the central theme of this devotional. The poem highlights two children, from two different religious backgrounds, who grew up together during the time of the Holocaust. The hope is that this poem, as well as both the Holocaust itself and Jesus's desires, serves as a harsh reminder to all that no matter who someone is, and no matter what someone says or does, never judge them. Accept them, and love them.

........................

We had no cares besides our own,
For judgment was only the loss of another.

Sophia. My dear friend. I do still recall the days of our buoyant youth:

Tasting the bread at the *Bäckerei, fresh out of the oven,
Herr Handel always did have a knack for those who loved his sweet cakes…

Seeing who was quicker to run from block to block,
Up and down the Berlin streets.
I understood then why you desired so badly to run for our *Gymnasium,
As I would always laugh and accept my constant defeat…

Our biggest treasure was our faith.
She was Jewish.
I was Christian.

We shattered our ignorance long ago.

Two different faiths; neither one ever came between us.
But all had only begun.

We had no cares besides our own,
For judgment was only the loss of another.

No cold drop of Heaven’s rain could still the fire in my soul,
when I turned her corner, and was met with racial truth.
My warm face, now turned to a sheer marble stone,
My intestines choked my stomach, sending acid upward burning my throat to a painful dumbness,
My knees, elbows, shoulders, neck all locked in position, with even the smallest bone now waiting for their own key of activation.
My feet, trapped under a numbing weight of the horrid conclusion.

I never recovered.

Now, I can only witness the innocent,
walking in the gutters of the streets,
heads hanging low,

Eyes darting from every person, and down deep into every crevice in the bleak and dusty walls of the city.
Only to be met with pairs of frozen pupils, unmoved, and nothing more behind them.

I no longer awoke for school by a gentle buzzer, but an explosive radio show.
Eventually, I no longer went to school. Reality became my teacher.

And Sophia, my dear friend Sophia, she became one of the millions of others,
that reality was forced to place its own eyes upon.
The eyes that spoke of a disheartening end.

Could I possibly understand the hate?
Never was possible, but the hate is unforgivable.

We had no cares besides our own,
For judgment was only the loss of another.

Judgment gave my friend a label,
And became the loss of another.

*Bäckerei - Bakery
*Gymnasium – German High School (Grades 5 – 13)

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