Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
There has been a great deal of controversy over a statement made by Judge Sonia Sotomayor regarding the role that life experience has in shaping our perceptions. She ahs said that “our experiences as women and people of color affect our decisions.” In 2001, in a lecture on this topic, she said, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”
Actually, she went on to say that sometimes her background was a good thing, and other times she had to broaden her perspective and see things from other angles. She called this broadening and searching for other perspectives part of becoming a better judge.
Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh called her remarks racist. Not surprisningly, when Samuel Alito made similar remarks about his background in an immigrant family, prior to his confirmation in 2006, they were silent. Judge Sotomayor is not a racist, nor is she displaying racial prejudice. But she is saying something important about the perspectives we bring to life situations.
The truth is that Jesus was right.
We all have logs and specks in our eyes. We get so accustomed to our own logs that we no longer see them. For centuries in the United States and in Western Civilization, white males have claimed the default position: our logs don’t count. We are objective.
We should try, as Jesus suggests, to remove the logs in our eyes. At our best we can do that from time to time. But they don’t stay removed. And even if we can permanently remove one, there is another to take its place!
Is Judge Sontamayor right when she claims (or at least appears to claim) that the log in her eye is less of a problem than the log in the eye of a white male judge? Maybe. Jesus makes a strong argument for seeing life from the perspective of those who are most oppressed and cast down. But even if her log is no better, it is at least different. There is no one else on the current Supreme Court who has her life experience and sees the world as she does. A diversity of logs is a good thing. With a diversity of logs we are better able to help each other remove the logs and specks that prevent us from seeing clearly.