Moving Past Judging and Learned Biases

My son was watching a Youtube video this morning. The video was about Bert (Bernhard) Trautmann. I’m not gonna go into detail about him, you can click the link for the video or the linked article in his name. Though a brief synopsis would help I’m sure, especially for those that choose to skip the links.

Bert is well known for two reasons. The most recent being that he was a keeper for Manchester City. His greatest triumph with the team was playing a cup game in 1956 that he had stopped a shot and sustained an injury that should have kept him from continuing on with play but he brushed it off and finished. His neck was broken and shattered discs came dangerously close to killing him.

His previous life, before being a soccer star, was quite polarizing to say the least. Trautmann was a renowned Nazi in WW2. He joined the Hitler Youth at age 17 and quickly moved through the ranks, even being awarded the Iron Cross at one point, which I guess is a big deal as its mentioned in everything written about him. Yet, after the war and being re-educated in a camp he moved to England and became a star.

Until this morning, I had really been struggling with the current state of affairs in this country, as I’m sure quite a few of you are. We have a severe lack of leadership that not only starts at the top with DJT, but the divisiveness evens flows into local politics here on tiny ole Cape Cod. It’s easy to want to point the finger and say how bad someone is, but maybe we are judging too soon? Maybe I am judging too soon!

I think a fair share of my local leaders are following in the footsteps of DJT because maybe they feel like they have to, or maybe they think it’s what the people want. Regardless, the Trautmann story has taught me that maybe I’m being a bit quick to judge.

I’m not telling you how to think nor am I telling you that it’s not your right to hold your leaders accountable. But maybe what I am saying is try not to be too quick to judge someone, and this can be put into action in all aspects. Regardless of whether a person is right or wrong, they believe that what they are doing is the best that they can do. Again, maybe they are wrong but it’s not up to us to decide for them to believe what we believe.

We all know that’s easier said they done. Judgements and biases are learned behaviors though. I really looked up to my mom growing up. She’s more liberal than most in my family so it was only natural for me to echo what I looked up to. Being honest, I get severely fired up when I hear most of our leaders talk, especially the assumed “opposition”. I get so upset when they are staunchly dug into issues I feel aren’t relevant nor do they fit my ideological view of what things should be like. I am working on it.

I think living and leading a life that is impeccable and beyond reproach, one that sets an example is how to convince someone to maybe look at themselves a bit. Though personal beliefs are not infallible nor are they devoid of ego, I think it’s the intention of goodness and non-judging that is important.

I mean, if Rabbi Alexander Altmann can say the following about Trautmann knowing full well his background, maybe we can take a moment to breathe and understand people are allowed to change and with the knowledge of compassion they might.

The Rabbi said, “for the terrible cruelties we suffered at the hands of the Germans … If this footballer is a decent fellow, I would say there is no harm in it. Each case must be judged on its own merits.”

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