Judgement is a natural reaction to discovering almost any piece of information. We all judge. We don’t do it consciously, though. It’s innate. It’s human nature. Most of us know it’s wrong, yet we can’t stop ourselves from doing it.
Not long ago I learned just how judgemental I was. During a pivotal moment in my life I looked around and realized there was no one around. I had pushed everyone away by judging them. I judged the entirety of a person’s worthiness based on one or two deeds I did not agree with, as if people don’t deserve second chances or should be damned for making a mistake or bad decision. This overwhelming sense of loneliness was oppressive. I had nowhere to go but my immediate family. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but it’s a truly humbling realization.
I turned my gaze inward. I realized I was doing myself a disservice by pushing these people out of my life and not the other way around. Did I agree with the fact that a friend was cheating on his girlfriend? No, but that doesn’t mean I have to shut him out of my life. It didn’t mean that I could no longer be his friend. Did I agree with the fact that another friend slept around freely? No, but that doesn’t diminish who she is as a person. I am no saint. I’ve committed my fair share of sins. Who was I to be judging these people? Who was I to cast the first stone?
So we judge. Why are we all so unforgiving? Granted, there are certain things that shouldn’t be looked past, but judging a person based on one or two actions is like judging a book by its cover. The cover could be bland. The title could be unimpressive. But what if the story contained therein is simply phenomenal? What if award-winning literature is lurking inside those bound pages? By that same token, what if that guy who cheated on his girlfriend was suffering through a tumultuous time in his life and was emotionally unstable? What if, aside from that, he’s a great father, has a cunning sense of humor, and is a loyal friend? What if that girl who was sleeping around just needed to feel loved? What if, aside from that, she’s a very caring and compassionate soul who donates to charities, is there in every capacity for her friends, and whose stunning smile lights up an entire room? So what if those people live life differently than I would were I them? What they do is none of my business. Their actions weren’t affecting me anyhow.
Since I made this stunning self-diagnosis I’ve become a more accepting person. I’ve done some things in the past year that are completely out of character for me, but if people judged me solely based on those two or three things they’d never know who I really am. With that thought in mind, I’ve learned not to judge people on one or two mistakes or for simply living life differently than I would.
In addition to judging others, we fear being judged.
There have been a couple of moments in the past few months where friends were afraid to tell me about certain aspects of their past because of my feelings on certain topics. They knew they had done things in their past that conflicted with my beliefs. They were both afraid that if I discovered their secrets I would cease to be their friend. Perhaps that may have happened in the past, but not today. Those two friends eventually confided in me. One did so while daring me to leave her life. If I was going to do it, do it and get it over with. The other confessed while saying if you’re going to quit talking to me it may as well be today.
I was slightly offended by both statements, but the offense wore off quickly. After all, I did used to be that person. They judged me based on my potential judgement of them, which is really convoluted.
We’re afraid of what people will say or think about us if our dirty laundry is discovered. Should we even care what unforgiving people think of us? Should we even be friends with those who judge us so harshly? If someone wants to discount me because I’ve done things they disapprove of that’s their problem, not mine. If someone thinks less of me because I believe differently than they do, that’s their loss.
I realize that we’re not all going to get along, but we need to overcome our inherent need to judge people. There is always a reason behind one’s actions and often times we judge without even knowing what those reasons are. For example, let’s say you’re stopped at a four-way intersection and your light turns green. You’re about to proceed through the intersection when some guy blows right through the red light and almost side-swipes you. “What an asshole!” you’d surely think. What if I told you that guy is a doctor who was rushing to the hospital for an emergency surgery? Would you be so quick to judge then?
What I’m getting at is this: judge not lest ye be judged. Judging people is close-minded and hurtful. It’s counterproductive to a peaceful society. None of us are perfect. We all have flaws. We all believe different things. We all have our own style. Let’s celebrate those differences instead of using them as a means to divide society.