istock_000005024047xsmall.jpgNo one saw it coming. He was just another somebody with a chip on his shoulder. He had his biased opinions and prejudices like many of us do.

But he not only talked about them, he took action. On Sunday, July 27, Jim Adkisson appointed himself judge and jury. He was so sure he was right and his way had to be the law of the land.

He not only passed judgment on the Unitarian Universalist Church and its members in Knoxville, Tennessee, he also took it upon himself to get a gun and take control of punishing them with death.

There are many times in our lives when we put the judge and jury together in the same bed, the same bath, and eat with them at the same breakfast table. We can get so stuck in our way of doing things or our righteous thinking that there is no room for a free vote or feedback from our peers.

It’s at times like this that what happened in Knoxville is a wake up call to all of us.

First, let’s ask ourselves:
• How open am I to hearing someone’s point of view?
• How tolerant am I of a different lifestyle than my own?
• How compassionate and forgiving am I to someone who is in such deep pain and woundedness to commit crimes like this against fellow human beings?

Second, let’s get proactive:
• If I need a boarder perspective on an issue, where can I get more viewpoints than those I already agree with?
• If I need some help with being non-judgmental and more tolerant, whom do I know and admire that can help me through this?
• If I’m using the Bible or my religious affiliation to point fingers and pass judgment, to exclude and condemn, what comes to mind when I ask the question: “What would Jesus do?”

Finally, these words come to mind from the song by Libby Rodrick. Here is a loving tribute to those who died and encouragement to those who were wounded. And here too, are words of hope and healing to the many souls who are stuck in the violence of their own courtroom.

“How could anyone ever tell you
you were anything less than beautiful
how could anyone ever tell you
you were less than whole.”

(“How Could Anyone Ever Tell You,” copyright by Libby Rodrick)

Janice M. Puta
Author of Pathways: Tales for the Spiritual Seeker
Free Preview: Pathways: Tales for the Spiritual Seeker

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