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  • Writer's pictureChuck Monan

The Way You Wear Your Hat

There are many crazy things

That will keep me loving you

And with your permission

May I list a few.

The way you wear your hat

The way you sip your tea

The memory of all that

No they can’t take that away from me

⎯ George and Ira Gershwin

They Can’t Take That Away From Me

Residents of Santa Fe, New Mexico learned an extra incentive not to break the law: avoiding public shame. Individuals convicted of domestic violence were forced to wear a blue hat. Drunk driving merits a pink hat, and green is the color for shoplifting. Other crimes are identified with other colors. This is the brainchild of Municipal Judge Frances Gallegos who is requiring people convicted of various offenses and sentenced to community service to wear colored hats to let other people know what they have done.

Gallegos is known for her creative attempts to curb crime, such as sentencing a 19-yr.-old who hurled a lamp at her boyfriend to a Japanese tea ceremony, tai chi classes, acupuncture and twelve weeks of meditation to help her to learn to control the impulse to be violent. The concept of the different hats is to introduce the approbation of others into the rehabilitation process.

Of course this concept is predicated on folks actually feeling shame about their behavior. It wouldn’t achieve the desired results in an atmosphere described by Jeremiah 6:15: “Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.” But it made an impact in Santa Fe. Gallegos comments, “There isn’t a single high school kid or even a grade school kid in this town that doesn’t know what the pink his is all about.”

Imagine if we were required to wear color-coded hats tied to our conduct. For instance, the following violations could be identified thusly:

  • Being ashamed of the gospel draws a yellow hat for cowardice.

  • Being consumed by greed and materialism equates to green, the color of money.

  • Being prone to using bad language merits blue for cursing a blue streak.

  • Being involved in sexual immorality deserves a red hat for the red light district.

  • Being torn between the truth and error is captured by gray, which represents the infamous area between black and white.

There is not a single one of us who would be unfamiliar with the stigma of the scarlet letter treatment if such a system were in place because “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Thankfully, we are spared from the glare of such a spiritual calling out. But one thought should remain in the forefront of our minds: Jesus knows our character. He knows what we do. He knows what we think. He knows our shortcomings and weaknesses. We can hide our conduct from others much of the time, be we cannot hide it from the Lord. Ever. For this reason our goal should always be to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Pet. 3:18).

No matter how we wear our hat.


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