Earlier this year, I added the word “Brexit” to my personal lexicon. I don’t recall when I first heard the term, but it refers to “Britain” having an “exit” of from the European Union. The UK voted in June to determine whether or not they would do just that. While I’m not an expert in EU or British politics, I remember seeing lots of coverage in the news leading up to the vote. The conventional wisdom was that the UK would vote to remain in the EU. But, of course, the vote went the opposite way. Right or wrong, good or bad, the measure passed, and the UK voted to leave the European Union. This was a shock to the experts. Almost immediately, the pundits started weighing in as to why the vote went the way it did, and my impression was that the reasons given were far from complimentary. People voted “LEAVE” because they are racist. Selfish. Stupid. Uneducated. Acting against their own self-interests. Backwards. And on and on and on it went.
Similarly, the United States had an election this week, and it also went against the conventional wisdom. And, in the wake of Donald Trump’s election to the highest office in the land, we are told that people voted out of racism, hatefulness, greed, whatever. To me, it’s much the same. Experts making claims that will not only seek to exonerate their own failure to predict the election results, but also throw a little shade on those who made them wrong in the first place. And, like with Brexit, celebrities, public figures, and even Facebook friends have jumped on this as well.
Now, please don’t misconstrue what I’m writing here. I’m not writing to extol the virtues of Donald Trump nor am I claiming an opinion one way or another on Brexit. But I do find this rush to judgment disheartening. Surely, it’s not okay to think the worst of people, to ascribe the worst possible motives when they have a different viewpoint from you, right?
Oh wait, I do it too.
Leaving politics aside for a moment, how often do we ascribe horrible motives to those around us to act in ways we don’t like? Picture a typical school morning around my house. Imagine the rush to get four kids all heading in the right direction, through the basic steps of…
- Leaving a warm bed
- Putting on clothes that are not stained, torn, or mismatched
- Eating a healthy breakfast
- Brushing hair and teeth to some satisfactory measure
- Gathering everything they need for the day
- Walking out the door on time
Now, in the world of make-believe, this is smooth and simple every day. But life is tricky. Life is one kid who woke up cranky and goes out of his/her way to make everyone else miserable. Life is one kid who can’t seem to get out of bed at all, much less go through the other steps. Life is one parent who has to take on an additional task in the morning to support something that one kid forgot. So, with six of us all moving together and sharing the same space, sometimes the morning is rough. Imagine after my beautiful wife and wonderful children finally walk out the door, I call after them, “Have a nice day!” And maybe my wife doesn’t say anything in return.
How rude! I mean we worked together to get all the kids out (almost) on time, and this is how she responds to me?? I can’t believe it.
Or, maybe – more likely perhaps – she didn’t hear me. No surprise there either, since most mornings the house looks like a triage unit by the time the van rolls down the driveway. But if I spend my day thinking her motive in not responding was to strike at me in some way, I’ll make myself miserable and be wrong.
Matthew 7:2 [NASB]:
For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
We can’t know the hearts of others. We can’t always know why they make the choices we do. And when we try to judge their motives, we can set ourselves up for judgment as well! Instead, let’s show love, patience, and respect to one another. After all, if someone’s motives are bad, God is aware, even if we are not. Let Him be in charge of changing hearts and minds.