g a t h e r i n g s

Judgment Forward

Still Thanking Bert Hellinger ... The Brown Hotel, Louisville, KY, an audience of about 350 people. A woman raises her hand to ask Bert Hellinger a question. She describes someone who has gone to great lengths to have a child; perhaps it was a sperm donor, or surrogacy, or one of the many ways of in vitro fertilization, I don’t recall. She wants to know what he thinks. Implicit in the question, if this work is about “natural” order and symptoms of disorder, and people pay various prices for different types of indiscretions, what are the consequences when people make these types of “unnatural” choices?

Bert sat back in his chair for a long moment. He smiled at me. I wondered what he would say. He whispered to me that he didn’t quite understand the particulars of the woman’s question, but I knew he wasn’t asking for an explanation or clarification. After a time, Bert looked up and out at the audience, he put the microphone close to his lips, and he said simply, “Welcome child.” That was it. I think about this moment often. There was a sense of peace immediately. Bert didn’t become entangled in the reasons behind the question. He neither defended nor agreed.

As facilitators of Family Constellations, or of any helping paradigm, we find ourselves working with ever-greater opportunities for diverse ways in the world, for ways of living and being. At the same time, if we are honest with ourselves, we may find ourselves running head-on into our own biases. We may not even realize we have them until we hit the wall.

The secret to “Welcome child” is in its emphasis. Rather than a judgment-forward response, it asks us to look at the question from a wider perspective of love. When we look at the world from a judgment-forward place, we necessarily turn away from the people who come to us. There is nothing to learn if judgment leads — and then nothing to offer.

“I don’t like this way …” “I don’t accept that way …” Who and what is the subject? Certainly, not the client. The subject is “I”. I am pretending to look at the other and only seeing my own face. Do I think artificial insemination is okay? Do I think people should adopt? By some estimates 40,000 gay male couples are raising children. What do I think?

Judgment-first thinking points to one’s own dogma rather than getting to know anything more about the other (client, friend, relative, partner). It warps and narrows intellect, creativity, freedom, and humanity. “Welcome child” is the antidote, the beginning of possibility. When I look at a question in this way — welcome child, welcome life, welcome love — I can see more clearly through the residue of my own preconceived ideas, with a softer gaze that can take in a greater expanse. Judgment-forward keeps me isolated, insulated, separated. What is beyond the limitations of fear-driven judgment? Welcome …