A friend of mine asked me today, “how do you explain to someone why we judge Trump right now? As I was thinking about that, it occurred to me that it would be helpful to share some thoughts with everyone on this, because it could be helpful moving forward with the rest of this election year.
I strive not to judge anyone, because we do not know what is going on in their lives. However, in some circumstances it is important to make a judgement in order to inform your life decisions. Sometimes it is important to judge whether a singer is ok for your child, or even yourself to listen to, same with whether you are comfortable shopping at a specific store or restarting. This year we are facing an especially difficult instance of this. Normally, these do not require a judgement on who they are as a person, but on what they are putting forward.
The difficulty of an election is that the character of the candidates matters greatly. We are choosing a person who will have authority over us, represent us, and make choices for us. That means we need to feel confident that their decision-making, and integrity are solid. We do not know everything that will come up for them to decide, so we have to know we trust them in as many situations as possible.
To judge means, “to form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises,” but also, “to form an estimate or evaluation of.” There is a very subtle difference between these two definitions that can inform how we operate during this difficult decision making time. The first definition is to “form an opinion” while the other is to “form an estimate or evaluation of.”
The detrimental kind of judgement that I speak out against falls into the second definition. “To form an estimate or evaluation” of a person is not our place, each person deserves to be treated as if they have infinite worth, and are infinitely loved by God. When we are judging someone in a harmful way, that means that we are treating them, or thinking of them as if they are a lesser or greater person than someone else.
The first kind of judgement is what we are being called to now, which still may lead us to the second if we are not careful. Currently, we do need to form an opinion about several people, and whether they are our best option for president. In order to avoid “being judgmental,” about it, it is important to remember that each of these candidates are people who have value and their own stories, and to think of them and treat them as such. It is also important to carefully study what we know about them in order to form our opinion.
In my own life I had to practice this in a way that was very difficult for me this weekend. With Trump sick, it was very hard for me not to fall into posting angry memes and cruel words, but instead I encouraged others to pray for him, because he has value as a person. It was incredibly difficult for me, and there were a lot of points where I was not as kind and loving as I should have been, but that is an example of remembering the worth of the person-and leaving judgement of their soul up to them, even as we form an opinion of whether they are the best candidate.
You may have difficulties acting that way about Biden, or Jo Jorgenson, Kamala Harris, or other authority figures you come in contact with. The important thing to remember is that we cannot decide if these people are good or evil, we can decide whether we think they are good candidates. That being the case, we must be respectful of the person’s worth as we move forward. That does not mean that we cannot work hard towards the result we believe in, or help people to understand why we are making the decision we are. We just must be respectful of other people as we do it.
Thank you for reading! I am praying for you and for this election, I hope you can feel peace during this chaotic time!