It’s so easy to judge others, so easy to make quick assumptions based on what we see (or believe we see). I’m guilty of it. Every one of us is guilty of it. I think part of this tendency is a hard-wired safety reflex, residual vigilance from the days when one’s survival literally depended on the ability to recognize physical threats. Sadly, for some humans on the planet, this is still the case, and others are burdened with the scars and trauma of recent and historical violence that affect their perception of the world and people around them. However, for the majority of housed, fed, safe citizens here in North America, this is not our reality.
The actual reality is that people are so much more than their exterior and our first impressions of their demeanour, appearance or their worst day. I know there are unfortunate exceptions, but most of us are trying to do our best at stumbling through this confusing world with the support, skillsets and information we have in our personal toolboxes. Just as every person is not the same, not everyone’s toolbox contains the same things, nor is as full as the next.
It feels horrible to be judged, especially when that judgement is unfair or outright incorrect. It certainly doesn’t make us feel very cared for and is not a feeling we wish for ourselves or our kiddos.
And yet, just glance at the comments in any popular social media post and watch the judgements fly about everything from people’s appearance, race, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, intelligence and work ethic to their morality and authenticity. Sigh! I think, collectively, we can do much better than this.
How many people making these comments are parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles—role models?
We all have a part to play in shaping the type of society in which we want to live. The society that we want for our children. Personally, I hope for a society that leads with kindness, respect and care instead of fear, intolerance and hatred. This is on us.
How about, rather than voicing our snap judgements about others, or letting these assumptions dictate our behaviour, we pause and try to engage our curiosity? Let’s wonder what might be behind that public persona or behaviour, or what a particular reflex judgement we make about others actually tells us about ourselves.
What a gift, to model compassion, kindness and introspection for our children.
This is something I’m working on, and honestly, sometimes it is hard, especially when someone seems unfriendly or says/does something unkind. But I think it’s good for my son to see me struggle with this, because he learns that caring for others is not always easy, and in fact that the “right” thing is rarely the easy thing. But it’s worth it and will get easier as more people jump on board.
Judgement happens, but it’s up to us to choose how we will allow it to affect others. Sometimes, we’ll be able to put in the emotional energy to learn something new and experience personal growth. Some days the best we can do is keep a judgement or opinion tucked away for ourselves. The kindest option is silence.