Reed Smoot

Reed Smoot“Whenever I dwell for any length of time on my own shortcomings,” says writer Margaret Halsey, “they gradually begin to seem mild, harmless, rather engaging little things, not at all like the staring defects in other people’s characters.” That’s funny, and more true than I care to admit. It must have been so with members of the US Congress in the early 20th Century. Many of them seemed less concerned with their own piddling shortcomings and preferred to wail about a staring defect in the senator from the state of Utah, Reed Smoot. So outraged were they, Smoot almost was not seated in the senate.

Reed Smoot was a leader in the Mormon (LDS) Church and, back in those days, his church was accused of secretly allowing the practice of plural marriages (polygamy). Although Smoot had only one wife, some of the more sanctimonious members of the senate argued that he should not be seated, given the beliefs of his church.

But the issue was settled when Senator Boise Penrose of Pennsylvania strode to the podium and looked directly at some of his colleagues who, though married, were known to “womanize.” He stated emphatically, “As for me, I would prefer to have seated beside me in the Senate a polygamist who doesn’t polyg than a monogamist who doesn’t monog.” End of matter.

I understand there are times we have to be discerning. But I don’t want to be known as a judging person. There is good and bad in all of us and I have plenty to work on in my own life.

Besides, I think Mother Teresa got it right when she said: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.  And, it should be added, if you love people, you have no desire to judge them. Substitute the word “love” with the words “understand” or “know,” and it works just as well. If you understand people, if know them, truly know them, you have no desire to judge them.

Losing the desire to judge – now that can change a life.

Steve Goodier 

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