“We live in a material world and I am a material girl” – Madonna
While I agree with Madonna’s lyrics, I believe we can take it a step further.
We live in a judgemental world and I know I am a judgmental girl.
To varying degrees we are all judgemental although some may be more sophisticated or clandestine and surreptitious about it while others are overt and boorish.
What happens when your judgements square off with your beliefs? What happens when your uneducated judgement lead to assumptions and conflict?
Obviously this is happening on a world wide scale; one need look no further than the insidious racial divides and subsequent wars in our own backyards and around the world to see how our judgements affect our behaviour. It never ceases to amaze me how we can commit the most heinous atrocities upon each other in the name of our beliefs.
It is said that we should not judge a book by its cover but that is exactly what most of us do most every single day. We categorize people immediately without any examination, thinking them ‘less than’, weak, failures, dirty, criminals, crooks, sluts, losers, etc. We then base our behaviour and our interactions according to that superficial judgement thereby reinforcing our judgments and tightening our beliefs to the point that we no longer register the look in another’s eyes to see their soul. We no longer take the time to hear a story assuming we already know it because all homeless people are addicts, all addicts lack willpower, all Muslims are terrorists, rape victims asked for it when they dress a certain way, all gay people are going to hell, etc.
What happens when your judgements are challenged? How do you respond to having your beliefs questions or examined? Do you welcome the opportunity to unpack your assumptions, engage in meaningful dialogue with someone different than you in the hopes of gaining a new perspective, perhaps a softening of sorts? I fear that not many of us do which means not many of us are living examined lives making it harder for understanding, compassion and peace to come about. I wonder if we would have the racial mayhem if we sought to understand each other’s point of views, beliefs and assumptions, if we only listened to consider instead of judging every book by a preconceived universal cover.
Every single person’s life is a book with many chapters, many plot lines, and many pivotal points that changed the trajectory of their life yet we seemed determined to judge a person’s story by the chapter we walked in on.
Every single person has at least one developmentally poignant chapter that they do not read out loud yet we project our beliefs and judgements on that person acting as if we intimately know the whole literary story.
Why is it we will purposefully take the time to seclude ourselves and get lost in a novel yet we don’t afford people the same luxury of our time to get lost in them, to follow their highs and lows, their loves and losses, their abysmal failures and magnificent triumphs?
I am a strong believer in an examined life; it is my assertion that you can only meet me as deeply as you have met yourself, as deeply as you have sought to understand the veins of your life, the crossroads, and the seemingly unimportant decisions that altered your course. I believe it is my duty to know myself intimately so I can offer myself intimately to another that seeks to know me.
I suspect that we are so judgemental because we are so afraid of the unknown for it will most assuredly shake, crack or destroy the foundation you built your judgements on and you will be called to action. You will be called to change, to flourish or to whither with the knowledge that you now know differently or better but choose to remain the same.
I believe it is in these deeply uncomfortable ‘in between times”, in the moments when we know what we are leaving and not yet know what we are meeting, that we get invited to do the most growing.
Instead of feeding our desire to change others to meet us where we are, why not invite them to be who they are? Why not search for commonalities and celebrate our differences? If we did, we would we could create a world of compassion which would ultimately change our individual behavior towards each and there is no better apology than a changed behaviour. A changed individual behaviour will lead to a collective change of behaviour and that will bring us all one step closer to peace.
Please do not to judge me or my story by the chapter you walked in on and I will not judge you on yours.
Please seek to understand me and I will seek to understand you.
Please accept me as I am and I will accept you as you are.