Better than 'them'

In Ecclesiastes, the Preacher writes that there “is nothing new under the sun.”  While I know this is true, there is much “under the sun” that I have not experienced.  A gun at a Little League game was one of them…

I went to Anchorage to watch my sons play baseball.  The tournament directors asked me to umpire in Anchorage as well.  While field umpiring the Soldotna Junior baseball team, the Soldotna boys playing the outfield were becoming more and more fidgety.  After the half-inning was over, they came in and told there coach that someone was shooting at them.  It turns out that a young child (10 y.o. ?) was firing his pellet gun at the players.  He hit one on the leg and another in the baseball glove.  The Anchorage police were called and supposedly arrested the culprit.  Ya know, there really is no umpire protocol for this situation.  The players on both teams were safe, but excited – I’m sure that they will tell the story for years to come.

The thing that made me feel uneasy, though, was summarized by a comment one player made: ‘You should expect this in the ‘hood.” (BTW – this was no the ‘hood’ by any stretch of the imagination – anyone who has ever been to L.A. or St. Louis or any other big city would not call that part of Anchorage the ’hood’.) Another one said, “This never happens in Soldotna.”  I tried to explain to them that location had nothing to do with this – sin in everywhere and stupid people do stupid things everywhere and that lumping in all the people who helped put on this tournament was unfair.

I fear that this stereotyping that the boys did of this part of Anchorage is not uncommon on the Peninsula.  People hear about troubles in any one area and quickly assume that they are ‘better’ than those people – the words may not be said, but the thoughts are still present.  This is not new – Paul understood this dangers of this kind of thought, as he spelled it out in Romans 2...

Romans 2:1-4  Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

May we never see someone as worse than us – may we see them as God’s child whom God wants to redeem and love forever.