Who am I to judge ? … I am me. Simply me.

(Réponse d’une mère française au pape François)

Pope Francis pronounced those words about the gay question a few weeks ago :
“Who am I to judge ?” … As a matter of fact, God saved him from that.

He didn’t save me from that …Who I am to judge ? …I am me. Simply me.
My whole and entire me …The right and the duty of my integrity.
Who I am to judge

Pope Francis was perfect in his role …Nothing to do with humility, during the press conference on his flight back from Copacabana.  He’s the pope, not the judge … The one that is responsible for the strict application of God Rules as they were transmitted.  He doesn’t judge, he applies the rules as set above him, and defends the interest of his Church … Who I am to judge ? …I don’t judge gays as human beings, I condemn acts …in this case, Gays Lobbying as a threat for the foundations catholic values. His open state of mind was worldwide applauded as a new sign of  current times.  Stricto sensu, he just reaffirmed what was always the position of the catholic church…  God is the only judge.

Attempting to Café Philo in the very Parisian Café de Flore on the same subject « Who I am to judge » , the same « God (or whatever else, in this particular place where somehow the spirit of Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus is still floating somewhere in the air) , protects me from judging . » arose again …

Everything which was said, was perfectly correct, very balanced, very civilized … the virtue of democracy, the difference between understanding and judging, between condemning and judging … but the same «  I am not the one who judge  others » underlined the whole debate.  Who I am to judge ?… God protect us from that sin. … Let our ego speak , what a nightmare for “cool philosophers “…so politically uncorrect in our New age …

Judging is not our Business is an other comfortable way of saying « I wash my hand with that » …I’m very clean with my conscious …I let other persons, do that for me … exactly like we delegate to garbage collector the “dirty job” or like Pope Francis delegated it to God … they know better, they’re experts, they’re lawyers or whomever better informed …everybody, but not me … Judgments are much too much subjective if we go out of the objective set of rules which are set by a legitimate power. And yes, sometimes, strict application of law leads to non-sense or unfair judgment… what can I do about it ? who I am to judge? …this marginal source of unfairness is the price to pay to leave quite peacefully in a globally harmonious society …The one ruled by the law of men.

While other would have been tempted by adding Amen, I felt just irritated . That’s not humility, that’s dismissing of the highest ability of our human being state.
Animals don’t judge…they fear you, they love you, or ignore you …but they don’t judge. We have the very special ability to draw a line between what’s fair and unfair, whatever the rules, the laws, the circumstances. Of course, they can be endless debates , what ever if it is a privilege or a burden, the ultimate power of humanity or the ultimate power of god… Exactly as for the case of who was the first, the egg or the chicken, do we really care so much about knowing if God creates us at his image, or if we create God at our?…
We share in common this simple ability to JUDGE in our soul  and conscience.

Who I a to judge …I am me. But who am I and who am I not, could have asked Shakespeare.

As me, simply me, mother of 4 kids, I obviously can’t go through theological or philosophical debates to explain them the line between what’s fair and what’s unfair …straight to the point and short cuts … Never betray your intimate conviction  … Nothing much more to learn than that … Unfairness is something you feel in your heart …Yes exactly like in a Disney Film, the precise moment tears show up or you feel they could show up if you were still childish … the true moment of unfairness.
That’s just what I try to learn my children, recognize their entire life long this spontaneous feeling … they will have plenty enough time later on to choose how they want to call it, empathy, compassion, Christian charity, spirit of the law …

Of course, it’s a childish shortcut …a shortcut that kids understand so spontaneously.

As mother, it’s a much more slippery field. My duty is to judge my kids and to learn them to judge by themself. Who I am to judge? …I’m your mother , I’m responsible for that. But how do I know if I’m right in my judgment? If I’m fair or not ? …That’s where the deep relation you have with your kids works is a powerful help…

With them, you can’t just judge the way they act.
Firstly, you have to be sure they understand the facts…the full pictures of what they did, the whole consequences for others, what was expected from them in this situation … That seems very obvious at first sight …it is not for everyone. My mother use to say « I don’t understand why you’re wasting your time by explaining everything to such young children. Just order, it will be more efficient » …Well, that’s exactly the point, I’m not wasting my time, I’m investing it on them …
With them, you can’t just judge the intention … They quite never do any harm with intention. With intention or not, the harm is done anyway, and has to be repair. If  I take the example, of the amazing number of glasses my son use to spill or break a week, the fact that the glass is broken or not is totally irrelevant by itself …and of course, it’s not his “fault” if he is clumsy. My own reaction depends mainly of his own. If he feels sorry about it, and tries as he can to clean his mess up, I immediately help him to do so with a « Doesn’t mind. It’s not a bid deal, it’s just a glass ». If instead, he shrugs the shoulders and says to me « it’s not a big deal, it’s just a glass », and passes his way as nothing has happened, he drives me crazy and I shout at him as if he would have make the biggest mistake in the world. It looks as an impasse, a cul-de-sac …the same act, two different judgments on it … But here again, judgment is about feelings … You can take it by principles « You put a mess, it’s your responsibility to clean it up », but as a matter of fact young children do not always act by « responsibility ». Fear can also be an efficient way to obtain the appropriate response …In this sense, my mother is right « Order, they will respect you …they will do it because they fear the punishment to come ».

I have the hope that I can learn them the same without fear, or at least with less fear, switching to a different emotional level, the sense of fairness …

« Do you feel it’s fair, if I have to clean up behind you ? » . « No ». This first “No” is mainly the conventional “No”, the one inherited from “good education” which can either mean “No, Mum” or “Yes, Mum”…. The one pronouced, meanwhile you read in his eyes, that he thinks the same « what a big deal for nothing …it’s just a glass. She a master in cleaning my mess, in a few second it will have disappear, she will stop be angry, and will forget about it and smile again. Isn’t that magical ? I just have to wait that the storm pass over my head, and here we are ».

Getting a true No is not so easy ..The way to get there is different for each child …But once  I get the way, I never stop in the middle of the road …until the true No.

– « Would you like to have to clean up behind your sister, if she would spill her glass ? »
– “I don’t see a single reason why I would do so !”
– « Let’s say from now on, I will decide that it’s your new role in the house …cleaning up your sister mess »
– « That would be unfair. You would never decide so ! »
– « Imagine, just imagine for the moment. What would you feel ?»
– « Anger, I suppose »
– « Against me ? «
– « Yes …but also against my sister. Knowing that I will have to clean her mess, she could pay more attention …or even she could clean by herself, because she would feel it is unfair » …
Happy mother, at least he arrives to same conclusion …that was without counting with his next sentence « Whatever, it’s not the same. You order me to play a role which is not mine . Cleaning the mess behind my sister ! I’m not her mother ! ».

That’s is the perfect moment to stop with logical assessments … ok, my boy, now switch on your heart…
« How do you think I feel at this very precise moment? Hearing that you consider me no more that Cinderella at your entire disposition. Here to serve, it’s my duty. Cinderella cleans the floors like nobody else and even better she smiles and sings while doing s , but how do you judge her situation ?  Remember your feelings … »

A tear dropped this time …just one …only one …the tear  that helped me moving him to another perspective. Exactly the trace that I wanted to leave on his memory, as it left one at this precise moment on his cheek … “Never forget this tear, my child, when you’ll know that the situation is unfair, and when you’ll nevertheless decide to close your hearth to the feelings it provokes within you and within others …”

Yes, judging and learning to judge, is not only a question of principles, or importance of acts …it’s a question of how you feel about it …
Before, it’s a question of intention; Meanwhile, it’s an accident that could happen to everybody …but unfairness starts always after … mainly by refusing to judge yourself on a broader picture, the picture you project in others minds …

And this single tear, you can’t miss it any way …nothing to do with a caprice, a comedy, a “I’m tired”, a “I’m hurt” …This tear is unique …It’s the tear of full comprehension.

But that’s not enough. When you agree with the fact that you have the right to judge whatever it’s your business or not, when you put yourself in a certain sense above any law but the one you feel in your heart, you have the duty to express your judgment. Imagine in a Court, a judge that would make silently the choice of the sentence :  guilt or innocence, and would get out of the room without a single word …just because he would feel his judgment will displease the audience …

Each time, one of my children comes back from school with an unfair experience and explains me « I felt so sorry for him or for her …it was so unfair », I always ask him and « what did you do ? » …
No true judgment, without act …or it’s pointless.
“Next time, please do …do the very next step …the step forward” …The step  which will lead you standing by him, on his side. And if you feel enough confidence, please explain publicly, in the middle of the classroom or the playground, why you feel it’s unfair. Speak it out clearly and loudly.
The usual answer is « But it’s not my role, the teacher is there for that . If I open my mouth, i will be punished for that ».
– “Did your teacher do something to correct the unfair situation ? »
– « No, it was the teacher, which unfairly punished the pupil. I don’t have the right to question her decision »

You always have the right, my child … ultimately, the choice of the judgment is always yours. That’s exactly why when you feel unfairness, never ask you if you are the right person to judge, especially if you’re the only one to feel so. It becomes then not only your right, it becomes your duty to do so …, Remember, always remember, that all rules are made to be broken, the day your find they’ re unfair. Or the day a specific situation requires to judge with other eyes …with your eyes.

My son said « but it’s a bad thing to have a punishment. You won’t be happy with me»
« What do you mean, by bad ? Do you really think you won’t survive for staying one hour more in school. ? Or do you think that what you felt for your mate, when he was unfairly punished, doesn’t apply to you ?
Anyway, be always sure, I will my turn judge you if you have a punishment … I will never stop my judgment to the punishment itself, I will always give you a second chance of explaining, because I trust you. And in this particular case, I would even have been very proud of your punishment, and would have stand on your side more than by one step …I would immediately have ask for a appointment with your teacher …if not enough with the director of the school …if not enough with the parents’ associations …if not enough to the local medias …”

The teenagers of the family stared at me , anxious…The oldest joked at me
« No, not a scandal please for so little ! and why not a letter to the President ? » …
“Well, that’s an option … By the way, remember that your grandfather used to write several letters to the President a week …Each time, he noticed an unfairness, whatever the place …in the newspaper, in the street … He was very proud of his « Légion d’Honneur », and that was his way in return to honor his country … what he felt being his right and his duty … But don’t feel anxious, I don’t feel old enough to write such a letter to the President for this small affair …I’m sure I’m still able to handle this case on my own …

But all of you, remember that there is no unfairness too little to deserve that you close your eyes. If you don ‘t train to judge and to act on little things, how would you be ready to do so when a big issue will appear ?
On the other hand, in a lot of unfairness affair, people didn’t even notice they were unfair. As witness, it’s your duty to mention it to them.”

And turning to my oldest son « By the way, isn’t that a nice occasion to update your Barmitzva Parasha  ? « Moses striking the rock» …Do you remember why Moses’ Brother was judged twice as guilty as Moses …because he was the witness, the one which did nothing …he saw, he knew, and he didn’t stop his brother. »…”Who I am to judge  ? “might he have thought …

Let me tell you a story that happens to me when I was 3 at school …my most unfair experience, a very little and stupid story as you would say … a story of banana, a story which deeply printed my mind and still seems as if it would have happened yesterday. In the nursery school, I started to pack off my lunch as every other children ; When suddenly a little girl, looking with envy on the banana my mother had put in my schoolbag , turned to the teacher crying  «  she has stolen my banana ! ». I calmly explained that it was mine …and calmer I was, more the situation took a bad curve for me. « You did a bad thing. But if you present your excuses, I’m sure the victim will forgive you ». « I didn’t take her banana ». « I can’t believe it ! a thief and a liar » …
Of course my banana was given to the little girl, which was so happy to come eat it just in front of me, watching with great interest  my silent crying … No recreation for me … and the rest of day, standing in corner of the punished children. When my mother came to bring me home, she confirms she has put a banana in my bag. End of the story ».

« But what did they do then ? »
« I told you end of the story. Nobody did nothing. No excuse, No one to step by, No « I’m so sorry for you ». I went home and the other day was a day like any other day at school. No scandal. No revenge spirit. Just a simple thought to myself. « This is unfairness. Never forget this feeling». …The good news in this story is that I don’t speak loudly to myself because of my great age  : I started very young to do so. »
For once, nobody to joke on that …My four kids stared at me and said « it’s the most sad story we never heard »…
“Then write the good end for me. Take this story, it’s a gift, so that you’ll never have to experience the sorrow of childish unfairness by yourself …keep it preciously. And next time you’ll witness, please step by, wherever its your mate or not, even it would be the first and the last time you will meet the sad child., what ever if takes one minute of your time or days and days of troubles.  The memory of it will last for ever for someone, even if you might forget about it yourself.”

Allow you to judge, even if you are not the best person for that, even if you know very little about what really happened or didn’t happen. Close your eyes, put a blindfold in front and listen …the justice is blind …that means that you have judge behind the appearances, that you have to judge above your interests, your inclinations, your affection …and if you’re quiet enough, you will hear the feelings of others within your heart… please always remember the sorrow or anger you feel when you hear that somebody is suffering from unfairness. Nothing to do with words, nothing to do with how loud somebody weeps …even in complete silent, even behind a loud laugh …you will hear it …

I can always rely on my youngest to make a happy end at every story …she says « that’s not the end of the story . I want to know « did you get another banana ? » « I suppose I did, I don’t really remember, I didn’t care so much about the banana…I suppose I would even have gave it to the little girl if  I would have noticed she was dying of envy to have it . »
« I’m so lucky to have you, you always put in my schoolbag plenty  enough ! I have the pleasure to share with anyone who wants some of my lunch. They love me for that…I will never be unfairly punished » … All story must have an end, and I decided to stay on this sweet conclusion and just dropped « I’m lucky too, you always see the very best everywhere… The lesson of « don’t ever let other people judge you or love you, by the number of bananas you have or not » will have to wait another day.
Teaching children fair judgment is a long story, a long daily road…

By the way, and ways are many…It reminds me the first time I went with my oldest son when he was about 4 years old in a church, the church of Saint-Sauveur, the “place to be” , the hot spot for the more traditional french catholic families during their holidays, just in order to open his mind to something different. I warned him of course before, don’t shout, don’t run everywhere, behave yourself, respect the faithful which come there to pray … At the second we enter the church, which was already full of families waiting the beginning of the office,  he ran straight in the middle of the central  alley, and shouted clear and loudly in front of the Christ on his cross … very excited « Mum, look at him ! I recognize him !!! he’s the Judge !!! ». More I tried to murmur him, No, No, please stop. You’re wrong , I’ll explain  you later on, not now… more he enhanced the tone … “I’m sure, I’m sure, his name is the Judge !!!.”

All eyes turned to us , full of incredulity and reprobation …not because my son broke the holy silence…just because they couldn’t believe he does not even know the name of Jesus … Imagine a 4 year old boy who never heard about Jesus ! It would never had happened in our family ! What a mother is she ! Red of confusion, and I don’t blush easily, I could just miserably excuse to the assembly « …At least, he knows what a judge is ». No one smiled this day, and it took me years before I incidentally learnt that a long, long time ago, Jesus, was also called the Judge …And that truly makes me smile…Maybe I should have for once suspend my judgment, and ask my son clearly and loudly what he meant by « The Judge » … there, in the middle of the alley of the church …

I forgot about the Judge, but I always remember that Lucifer, before becoming the Evil, was the very first angel …the one who was thrown out of paradise, because, he thought he could be the equal of god … “Who I am to judge …I am me” …might have been his very first step to claim his divine power.

I forgot about blind obedience, but I always remember that Eve has been thrown out of Paradise for having bitten in the apple, the one of the divine power of disobedience.

And Yes, my children won’t become “wise as an image” as we say in  French, but I really do all by best that if questioned by  any “Who I am to judge”, they will remember … Them. Simply them.

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