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Monday, March 24, 2008

A Question of Rightfulness

A family friend died recently. His was a life of turbulent relationships -- but he lay on the bed which he made. Quite proudly at that. In truth I know very little of him, of his struggles and choices; I don't even remember what he looked like, happy or angry or sad. And I will never really know.

When word came that he was ill someone from their past asked my father to confirm if he truly was ill, or if it was merely a rumour spread to confuse everyone. He was, after all, still in a legal dispute with the party she had chosen to take sides with.

But it was true. He lay dying of metastasized cancer. He'd kept his condition secret all these years. He'd asked that Dad tell no one, so no one will visit him. And then he died.

The morning before he died this woman asked that we pray for him, that he may repent his sins while there is time. This said, by a person highly respected by all for her spirituality. A person known for her rightfulness in matters compassionate. A person I greatly respected, until that moment. Her moral condescension left me dumbstruck.

That he may repent his "sins" while there is still time. "Sins" that never involved her in any way, anyway. A protracted legal debacle that does not and cannot include her, neither by kinship nor affinity -- for she is neither.

Who is "right" and who is "wrong" ? Is it essential that for one person to be "right" the other must be "wrong" ? Must it be dialectically opposed, that "wrongfulness" exist, so that we can justify the state of "rightfulness" ? Who is more "right" and who is more "wrong" ?

Only God can pass judgment on us all. Regardless of what we have done to each other, what "sins" we have committed -- real, imagined, and preconceived -- we have no authority to condemn our brethren. Is it not our duty to improve the lives in our community? Moral outrage is not equal to moral condescension. There is no justice in condemnation. There is no compassion in moral condescension.

Was he Christian enough, for the Christian God? Was he Buddhist enough, for Buddha? Or was he Moslem enough for Allah? We don't know that. None of us can know that. Only God.

May God have mercy on all our souls.