Judge actions, not destiny

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A while back, a shooting took place at my high school. A student I knew entered the school with a gun and began shooting in the hallway. Words cannot describe the sadness I felt when I heard that he had fatally shot one girl in the head. The shooter killed himself before he could be taken into custody.

After the shooting, some members of my stake speculated, and even posted on Facebook, that the girl who died — who was not a member of our faith — was probably teaching her shooter the missionary discussions in the spirit world. I was impressed by my stake members’ willingness to forgive the shooter, as I could not forgive so easily. I often find myself judging his character with an imperfect knowledge of his actions. Because of my imperfect knowledge, I am comforted that I have been commanded not to judge him. Perhaps this is why it came as such a shock to me when others publicly pinpointed where my two peers are dwelling. I know that they were just reacting to the situation and trying to provide comfort to those who were mourning, but I think it presents a deeper problem within “Mormon culture” where individuals feel the need to alleviate uncertainty by determining the fate of others.

By judging others, we demean the omniscience of God by assuming that our small understanding of life is sufficient to determine the fate of others. Whenever we place a final or total character judgment on individuals, we assume that they are either good or evil, forgetting that we believe in a loving plan where individuals are not simply exalted to heaven or condemned to hell, but that there is room to improve living in intermediate stages. Therefore, we must remember that we cannot define the character of an individual. Although we can judge their individual actions, we must not attempt to determine someone’s destiny.

Zoe Gibbs
Denver, Colorado

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