Saturday, May 23, 2009

With What Judgment Ye Judge

Matthew 7:2 says:

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

During the last two years, I have blogged extensively throughout the Bloggernacle - and one of the things that has jumped out at me more forcefully than perhaps anything else is how rarely this simple verse seems to be understood in the context of internet communication. I read derogatory comments that include characterizations of others' personal righteousness - or condemnatory, sharp statements to others' comments - or dismissive, rude responses and ridicule. Often, it is obvious that there is a judgment being made - and that such a judgment is not one motivated by charity.

I have a foundation rule when it comes to how I try to comment. I try before submitting any comment to stop and re-read it with the following question in mind:

How would I react if someone else had typed this comment in response to something I wrote?

A related question is:

Does this comment make a personal judgment about the person to whose comment I'm replying - or does it focus solely on what has been written?

I believe what we write in our internet communication shows as clearly as anything else how well we have internalized the admonition to judge not, that we be not judged. I also believe it shows how deeply we believe that we will be judged the same way we judge others - and I think that of the two concepts (not judging and receiving reciprocal judgment) the latter (receiving reciprocal judgment) actually is the more fundamental of the two.

In other words, I believe understanding the reciprocal nature of eternal judgment can keep us from judging others FAR more effectively at first than simply believing we shouldn't judge others. Simply believing we shouldn't judge is the higher law, but most people need to understand the reciprocal nature of eternal judgment in order to begin to internalize being non-judgmental.

I try to be charitable initially because I wanted others to be charitable toward me, but I have moved beyond that initial motivation and now try to be charitable because I want to be charitable for its own sake. Most internet communication I read, however, even much of what I read in the Bloggernacle, simply isn't charitable - but rather judgmental. Given Matthew 7:2, that should be a concern to those whose comments I read - but I can't judge their level of understanding of that principle, so I can't judge them.

Oh, the irony.


Unknown said...

This is so true. And I really like this explanation of this scriptures. It's a hard one-to do as well as truly understand.

I'm not sure what makes normally kind people feel comfortable writing such snarky comments in the bloggernacle. It must be the anonymity of it all. I think we forget that behind all these articles aren't just faceless droids but real people. Although, the articles that you read in the bloggernacle are often things these persons wouldn't say aloud, and feel more comfortable sending into the internet abyss... I wonder if that encourages the snarkiness? Regardless, charity shouldn't only be used in comments on reasonable or well written blog posts :). It's probably our reaction to the most ridiculous posts that shows our true grasp of charity. (Much like charity when dealing with people in real life).

Sorry. long comment. I just love this post. Kindness and charity are some of my favorite traits to think about.

In The Doghouse said...

IMHO The anonymity of the Internet gives REAL individuals the opportunity to express themselves in a contrary manner to their REAL nature. This is the "second life" mentality that Elder Bednar addressed in his most recent CES Fireside. (It may seem he was addressing only the game "Second Life" but when you are commenting in a manner contrary to your REAL life, you are living a divided or second life.) I love the questions you ask yourself before you comment. Because the Internet does not allow for other forms of communication, such as voice inflection or body language, I believe we have to be extra careful about what we write. Our words are the only "stinging" thing that can be seen.

Matthew said...

Well said, as always, Papa D. I believe that how we interact with others in any forum has a huge impact on our spiritual development. Charity does not become any less important simply because the medium of communication changes.

I also cannot help but think that anonymity places upon us, in some ways, a greater responsibility to speak with care and compassion. Because there is no forced accountability when we are anonymous or faceless, the only restraints on our communication are those we choose to place on ourselves. In my mind, how we conduct ourselves when no one is "watching" is a true demonstration of our character.