There's a Rockford love story circulating Facebook that is getting attention for all the wrong reasons. Every couple can tell you the story of when they first met or that magical moment when they reconnected, which is the tale of Ken and Donna's story. They knew each other as far back as 2002 but re-connected in October 2013 at CherryVale Mall. Fast forward to Saturday, March 2nd, 2019... they will exchange vows and tie the knot at center court of that same mall. Unfortunately, many people are (for whatever reason) blinded and are choosing to be unsupportive of the couple's personal decision. To them (the derided) I apologize.

Sure, it would be easy to apologize to the couple on behalf of the city, but maybe there needs to be an apology to the hypercritical. If that is you (and you know who you are)  then this letter is for you.

Ken Mahnke via Facebook

Dear Hypercritical Mall Couple Mocker,

There must be a reason for a negative reaction to something that likely has zero direct impact on your life. Maybe your parent(s) or guardian never taught you to not judge others. If that's the case, I'm sorry. Maybe when you were a child you were taught not to be judgemental but as you got older you became surrounded by infectiously judgey people. If so, I'm sorry. Surely something happened during those "impressionable" years brought this on, as my therapist would say.

Maybe your life is so perfect you deem yourself above the rest of us. If so, I apologize because something will eventually come along and rock your world. Maybe something you've never done or witnessed is always bad. If so, I apologize. There's nothing wrong about being different or thinking "outside the box" even in regards to something like a wedding. Heck, as a wedding DJ (cheap plug) I LOVE when the day/night is unique and unordinary. This reminds me of a wedding photo I saw on Facebook recently of a couple that had some after-ceremony photos taken in Oregon High School. (Go Hawks!) Are you going to judge them or are you going to let it pass because the bride and groom are dressed to the nines? Are you going to excuse them as not being odd because the couple met in high school? There's no difference. If you can't see that, I'm sorry.

There's a mega-apology coming if you have direct frequent contact with impressionable children. Children are not born racist, sexist, judgemental, filled with hate, etc. They learn to act that way. I know this because I'm a father. My children are raised knowing we're all the same regardless of gender, race, religion, how much money someone has, so on and so forth. Sure, they're going to be exposed to hypocrites and the hypercritical (Yes, there's a difference.) But I'm confident enough in their love for others that they do not go against one of the golden rules; do not judge or you too will be judged.

Finally, sadly, I was once one of the people that judged others in the blink of an eye. But today (and over the past several years) I challenge myself against doing that. Maybe it's going church, maybe it's my love for Jesus Christ, maybe it's just wanting to be a better more positive person. Whatever the reason, I know in my heart that I don't want to be judged by those I don't love. I especially don't my wife and children to be judged based on how they dress, how they talk, or anything else for that matter. In the scheme of things, it pains me when I see or hear of people being judged because they're being themselves. Whether it's good or bad, we are not the judge and the jury.

The only thing about Rockford that is at the same level of crime is the number of people who are quick to judge and show hate towards others, usually someone they do not know. If you fall into that category, I'm sorry.

If I come off as hypocritical for calling out others, I'm not sorry.