As parents, we try to teach our children not to judge others by any number of exterior factors, whether it is their race, size, religion, gender, hair color, clothing choice, the size of their home or the car they drive. We want our children to make decisions about another person only after they have gotten to know that person. Yet in the spirit of wanting our children to stay safe, we are also teaching them about stranger danger and trusting their instincts.
Let’s face it. Unfortunately we all still judge. We just do.
Haven’t you ever been in a situation where you wondered why someone you barely know does not like you or is talking trash about you behind your back? Haven’t you ever said out loud, “But she barely even knows me!” That happened to me in the blogging community a few years ago. It still stings.
One of my closest friends is a dentist. She and her husband are in practice together. New patients walk into their office every day and automatically assume that he is the dentist and she is his assistant even though both of their names are on the door.
Another friend of mine has a son with a rare form of Dwarfism. He is eleven years old. If you saw him standing at half the height of kids his age you probably would not think of him as a point guard on a basketball team. Or would you? Last weekend he made 12 of 15 free throws.
The child with Autism who cannot make eye contact with you or speak very clearly (if at all) may just know a hell of a lot more than you suspect.
The woman with the big house, the fancy car and the rock on her finger who you think is looking down at you through her Gucci sunglasses? She may be on the verge of a nervous breakdown from spending so much time and energy (not to mention money) on keeping up with the Joneses.
I will make my own confession. Until the last three years or so, I thought people who lost their jobs were just not very good at them anyway, and I am sure that I judged them as such. In my mind if there was downsizing, the company simply got rid of those who were not effective performers. It had never dawned on me that entire departments could get cut or that there may be bureaucratic legal matters to consider and sometimes pretty amazing performers just got screwed.
Everyone has been through something.
Having been through a difficult time in life does not give anyone the right to act like an ass, yet it is worth keeping in mind when judging another person. Making blind judgments prevents us from getting to see the good that may lie beyond an exterior. You never know what someone has been through or is going through. You never know about their history, their interests, their wit, their strength, their intellect or their intent.
So if we can admit that we still judge, what can we do about that? Honestly, I don’t have all the answers. Perhaps we can judge based on instinct and intellect rather than on superficial nonsense. Perhaps we can take the time to get to know someone to see if our initial judgments were valid. Or perhaps we just make sure as hell that we judge others the same way we would want to be judged ourselves.