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:
7 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 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.
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.