Each of us, had we the desire, could fill a book’s worth of pages with the events of our lives. Those pages would contain the ingredients from which we were made. Those lucky enough to read your words would understand who you are and why you are the person you are.
Sadly, many of us are judged by people who have no regard for our stories. There are people who will focus on one small part of who we are – say, for example, our religious beliefs, our sexual orientation, our weight, our looks, our skin color, our choice in attire, a mistake we made, a lapse in judgement, a simple choice (really, I could go on, but I won’t) – and judge us entirely as a person based on that one miniscule aspect. How one can be judged, so quickly I might add, without all the facts flabbergasts me.
For instance, I have been judged for not readily sharing my feelings. Those people, however, judged without knowing that during a 10 year marriage I had to hide my true feelings or face the wrath of a mad woman who didn’t like what I had to say. Hiding myself became so engrained that even after having left that relationship I still have trouble being honest about my feelings with others. Sure, you could shun me and call me a robot, and you’d be correct from a certain point of view. You would, however, be completely wrong. I do have feelings. I often have so many feelings I don’t know what to do with them. You, however, probably won’t ever know what thoughts and feelings scamper around my head simply because I was conditioned not to share them.
If you’re going to take it upon yourself to judge someone, you should do so with all the facts. Before you make a decision to discount someone, learn who that person is. What they stand for. What makes them tick. Knowledge breeds understanding. Understanding breeds sympathy. Sympathy breeds compassion. Compassion eases suffering.
We could all do with a little less suffering, no?
We are selfish beings, though. We only become vested in something if there’s some reward for us. Taking the time to get to know someone instead of making snap judgements just doesn’t fit in to our hectic schedules.
Furthermore, there are those who seem to take a sort of perverse pleasure in the suffering of others. We revel in episodes of Maury, Springer, and Cheaters. We laugh at the mom who’s brought 20 different men on national television in a desperate search for the father of her child. We gobble buttery popcorn while watching boxing, UFC, or any of the millions of YouTube videos of fights people have taped instead of prevented. We, as a whole, for some reason love to see people torn down. We love to tear people down who are different or have a different point of view. We enjoy “reality” shows where the contestants backstab and ridicule other contestants. We are mercilessly cruel to each other.
When we hurt we lash out at others. I know I am guilty of this and I’d bet money you are, too. In my darkest hours I’ve said and done some reprehensible things. I’m not proud of this and were it possible I’d take back every sin. Every insult. Every spiteful word uttered.
But what if we trained ourselves to behave differently? What if, instead of mocking someone who is different, we attempt to understand them? What if, instead of looking at a bedraggled homeless man with contempt, we offered him a meal? What if, instead looking the other way when we see abuse, we offer assistance? What if, instead of glaring at a mother struggling to control her children, we offer empathy? What if, instead of fearing those with mental illness, we attempt to help them? What if, instead of only considering how things affect us, we consider what things have affected the things affecting us?
We all have a story. That story has molded us into the beings we are. Have you ever been bad-mouthed by someone and thought, “If he/she only knew…”? I have and it is with that in mind that I try not to make snap judgements. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I’m willing to let people have their say. I try to be empathetic. I try to be compassionate. I try to do these things because we all have a story…and that story is worth learning.
I’m only human, though, and I’m not always successful. But I’m trying.
Not a one of us is perfect. Everyone one of us has made mistakes, and will do so again. There are many sayings I could drop on judgmental, intolerant people, such as, “Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Or, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Or even, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” You get the point, hopefully.
I realize this piece has kind of been all over the place, but what I’m trying to say is this: humanity, at this moment, is disappointing. I have so much to say about that and trying to fit it all into one post is impossible. The fact remains, though. Flip on the news and watch. The only part of the program you won’t hear about human depravity is during the weather, and recently even the weather reports have been filled with depravity (-10 degrees is cruel and unusual!).
Let us change it. Let’s all do our part to make this a better world for all. Let’s answer hatred with love. Anger with kindness. Intolerance with understanding. Differences with tolerance. Smile at a stranger. Say hi to a passerby. Hold the door for the person behind you. Small acts such as these will add up quickly and can make a huge difference in someone’s day.
Above all, be kind and treat others with dignity and respect.
This meandering mind-dump has been a #1000Speak post.
1000Speak started with an understanding that even though we might get older, we still all need the metaphorical village around us, and the compassion of others in our lives. Then the sudden thought happened – what if 1000 of us wrote about compassion all at once? From there, the movement has taken on its own life; has burgeoned and grown and spread a whole lot of love and connection and ‘villageyness’.
Spread the love using the hashtag #1000Speak
Join the 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion group on Facebook.
And join in – together we’re stronger.