I can’t say I’ve ever parked in a handicapped space. Although I admit I was very tempted one evening when I was using my mother’s car and discovered that my grandma (whom she had been travelling with) had left her handicapped sticker on the visor.
Whenever it’s dark out I like to park close to my destination, a natural precaution of young females travelling alone who don’t want to end up on the news the following day. However, my destination that night was the gym and I just couldn’t stomach the thought of an actual handicapped person seeing me return to my car from that location where I had the perfect freedom to sit, stand, lift or run as the various machines required. So I parked somewhere else a little further back feeling bad that I’d even considered it.
A little while later I was on facebook and I saw a video of a man who did not resist the temptation to park in a handicapped space even though he did not need it and did not have any handicapped sticker. In protest of the action, someone had covered his car in all blue post-it notes and had used white post-it notes to depict the familiar symbol of the white stick figure in a wheelchair. The person had, in effect, transformed the entire vehicle into a handicapped sign.
When the driver returned to his car a crowd had formed and they were laughing hysterically and cheering as he tried to remove the post-its and drive away in humiliation. Many had their phones to film it as well, which of course is how I ended up seeing the encounter.
It struck me that this is the merciless morality of my generation. It is a morality without an underlying moral code. Just a public mob policing each other in civic virtue in order to encourage conformity to public consensus of which actions are “good” and which are “bad” because we prefer relativism based on the capricious whim of the people to morality based on the law of God.
I don’t know what sort of man the driver is because I’ve never met him. I don’t know what sort of day he was having because it was not revealed in the short video I watched. But the people in the crowd knew exactly what type of man he was because they judged him as a person based on this one action and decided that because they hated the action they would also hate the man.
I reject that model, first and foremost as a Christian, because I have always been taught to fight hatred with love. To hate the sin, but never the sinner. This model also gives you something that the model I described above does not give: humility.
Because I have said it before and I am certain I will say it again, it is impossible to judge someone without loving yourself a little more and the other person a little less. The crowd did more than enjoy with loud cheers the spectacle of another man’s humiliation, they reveled in their shared hatred of him and were united in their elite claim to never having parked in a handicapped space, or at the very least not being caught at it and condemned like this particular driver. This frightens me. Not only because it is un-Christian but because it is a cowardice that cloaks itself in reason, to the point that I believe many would argue against my synopsis and defend the crowd’s actions as reasonable. The video itself is titled, “Guy Who Parked His Car In Handicapped Parking Space Gets What He Deserved“
Hate is always reasonable because it is founded on a reason which to your mind, and maybe the minds of your peers, justifies you in hating that person/action etc. Every person has this capacity and yet I would argue that the best judges are not the most reasonable ones who swoop in for cold hard justice, but the ones who call for mercy because mercy is a check against human nature. Mercy is an unreasonable and inexplicable desire to love one’s neighbor even when he has made a bad choice. Trusting that in spite of an error in judgement there might still be something redeemable in him.
I point this out because I don’t want a world ruled by a mob like the one I saw on that video. A purely secular courtroom based on the timelessly old adage “an eye for an eye.” Because I would rather walk the hard road, to be called a naive, idealistic, sucker who sets myself up for being disappointed by others and is swindled by cries for mercy from undeserving jerks trying to masquerade as good people than to be the type of person I saw in that video, one who revels in the fall of another person because they don’t believe they’re also capable of falling.