Measures for our judgmental world

This week, Marian at Plain and Fancy Girl reminisced about her childhood songs and recitations. She reminded me that, about a thousand years ago (or so it seems) when I was in elementary school, we sang “God Save the Queen” and “O Canada” every morning. After that, every student recited The Lord’s Prayer. (In that part of rural Ontario, Canada in the 1960s every child was Christian.)

The idea shocks me now. I’m in favour of secular education that excludes no one. But back then that was the way of my world.

My Grade 8 home room teacher took things a step farther. He made us memorize and recite a small selection of his favourite Bible verses. Among them:

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

Matthew 7:1-3

I have Mr. Delport to thank for the fact that decades later I can still recite those words without hesitation. And I feel we need them more than ever in our polarized world. People at extreme ends of political, religious or climate change spectrums cruelly snipe at and try to diminish or dehumanize each other.

Not helpful.

Of course, we judge others. It’s a built-in survival mechanism that prevents us from handing over our life savings to the scammer on the phone who says he represents our credit card company.

But we can still extract wisdom from the ancient scripture. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t judge others or expect never to be judged ourselves. It does mean that we should apply the same measure of kindness and consideration of circumstances to others as we would wish them to apply to us.

My teacher was trying to urge us, during the wild hormonal ride of Grades 7 and 8, to assess our relationships with others with care. Before making catty comments about another girl’s wardrobe or hair, we could look at the circumstances of her life and realize that she was doing her best. Before spreading rumours, we could consider how hurtful such a rumour would be for ourselves. Instead of making a person with a lower mark on a test feel bad about the result, we could sympathize or even offer to help.

My grade school days are over, but this crazy world of extremes needs Mr. Delport’s guidance more than ever.

A measure of kindness.

A consideration of circumstance.

Some empathy or sympathy and some offers of help.

The standard measures at 62 Fahrenheit verified by the Standards Department Board of Trade 1882 of 1 foot, 2 feet and and Imperial Yard. As mounted on at wall in Glasgow, UK.

13 thoughts on “Measures for our judgmental world

  1. Kate Crimmins

    Yes, those crazy high school days. Fortunately we didn’t have a lot of “mean girls” at our school but we did do cliques. I think of it as like minded people sticking together.

  2. marianbeaman

    I am thrilled and honored that you could use my blog post this week as a spring-board for your own wise words: Kindness, consideration, and empathy. Oh, how I wish our world could be washed with all three.

    Brava, Arlene! 😀

  3. Ally Bean

    I read Marian’s post too and it reminded me of how different my childhood experiences were than how they were even 10 years later in the same public school system. We recited the Lord’s Pray [first and second grade only] and said the Pledge, then sat down at our assigned seats and stayed seated there. Looking back I know that some teachers were kinder than others, but taming us with rules of behavior and the threat of corporal punishment was how the authorities kept us kids in line. Compassion wasn’t part of the plan.

      1. Ally Bean

        I was a good student, too, and one of a few who went onto college. There were some good teachers, but many were just going through the motions.

  4. Joni

    I went to a Catholic grade school and although I remember singing O Canada and God Save the Queen, I don’t every remember saying the Lord’s Prayer? Although they encouraged kids to go to morning mass before school during Lent (the school was right beside the church), and we had religion classes occasionally, but no bible studies. I had good teachers and several really excellent ones. I just finished reading For the Love of Learning – A Year in the Life of a Principal – by Kristen Phillips – she is a Canadian author and worked in southern Ontario. The books was interesting, in terms of how much school has changed but frankly I found parts of it horrifying. I picked it up as I was curious as to why so many kids can’t pass the standardized tests at grades 3,6 and 9 – a question she did not really answer.

    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      Interesting that you don’t recall the Lord’s Prayer. I thought it was a standard then, even in public schools.
      I recall the my kids’ teachers had to work really hard on preparing their classes for the standardized tests, but I don’t know much about the results from them. Many people do question their necessity and effectiveness, that much I know.

      1. Joni

        I suspect the school felt that it was the church’s responsibility to cover the Lord’s Prayer! I only remember having religion in school prior to our First Communion and Confirmation. According to the book, the teachers/union does not like the standardized tests as only 50-60% of the kids pass, and these would be kids who get or are given A’s and B’s in class. She discusses the discrepancy in marking, but it makes it look like teachers aren’t doing their jobs and/or kids don’t know how to spell/read/do math etc. I remember a variety of marking methods, sometimes it would be a number, sometimes a letter and one year just satisfactory/unsatisfactory. One teacher in the book did not give tests or assignments so she had no documentation on how she gave her marks other than the gut instinct of an experienced teacher. Needless to say the principal was horrified!

  5. Endless Weekend

    I was lucky enough to have some marvelous, memorable teachers, and your Mr. Delport sounds like he was one of them. It reminds me of that old saying: “Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.”


What do you think? Let me know. Comments make me really happy.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.