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Our right to freedom from self-righteousness
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out amazing expressions of community. These range from Italy’s bittersweet balcony singalongs, to free digital access to global cultural activities, to the response to a call from United Kingdom officials for volunteers to assist the nation’s loneliest. Within the first day, over half a million of my fellow UK citizens had stepped up to answer the call.
But not everyone is feeling as charitable. Self-righteousness has reared its head, according to two British opinion pieces on the coronavirus, although the authors didn’t agree on who was being self-righteous. One article criticized those the author said were flouting calls to shelter in place and practice physical distancing. The other piece castigated people for “coronavirus shaming,” which the writer saw as judging others without caring to learn if there were mitigating circumstances. This suggests that self-righteousness isn’t so much about what we judge as the way we judge. History’s most extreme example of misjudging self-righteously was the blindness to the goodness of Jesus that impelled religious leaders of his day to cause the crucifixion of “the best man that ever trod the globe,” which is how Mary Baker Eddy describes Christ Jesus in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 52).
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Photograph by Georgianna Pfost