Judgements – we make many of these on a day to day basis, but how many of these judgements, especially of others, do we really analyse before we make them?
Someone does something to offend you. Judgement: They are a horrible person, they go out of their way to upset people, they don’t like me, they only think of themselves, etc. etc.
Let’s consider this. If it is someone we know, then we’d know whether or not they are a horrible person. Sometimes a friend may offend us, but does that make them a horrible person per se? Do they always go out of their way to offend you and others? If yes, then perhaps you need to find out why, and seriously question why you consider them a friend! If they aren’t in the habit of being offensive, then DEFINITELY find out why this time they acted that way! It may be that they have worries on their mind, and their treatment of you is just an outlet for their frustration. They may actually need your help! If it is because you firstly offended them, then maybe YOU need to explain why YOU acted the way you did.
If a stranger offends you, then there are a number of things you can do here. First of all, if you don’t know them from a bar of soap, why are you taking so much offense? As Eleanor Roosevelt said “No one can make you feel inferior without YOUR consent.” (emphasis mine). When we don’t know the circumstances from which a person acts, it is not really for us to judge them, unless we know a little more about the person, and the reasoning behind their actions or words. Even though we may all have basically the same type of education, there are a lot of other factors involved that make us who we are, and subsequently form our ideas and beliefs. Therefore, we are NOT going to all think the same way about things.
Eating meat versus vegetarianism is a good example.
Let’s look at the meat eater. They may eat meat because that is the way they were brought up, their family have always eaten meat. They LIKE meat. They may not actually have considered the animal in this scenario. On the other hand, they MAY have considered the animal. They may only eat meat that is organic, grain fed, or not factory produced. They may hunt for their own meat. They may have tried vegetarianism and found their health suffered, so went back to eating meat. This does not mean they believe in cruelty to animals. They may even support animal organisations that help animals. They may believe that eating meat is no different to eating plants – fruits and vegetables, as these are all living things, so what’s the difference? Consider the fruitarian who only eats food that falls from the tree so is already thought of as ‘dead’. Are they right? They would consider even the regular vegetarian a murderer!
Just because a person has made a conscious decision to change the way they eat, does not make them right, or a better person than another. They will have based their decisions on information they had at the time and made informed choices. Those choices will be arrived at differently to the next person, who may even have the SAME information, but view it all differently, due to past experiences, conditioning and so on.
We don’t have the right to judge another on the way they live, or the things they do, unless we know where that person is functioning from, what information they have been given, how they have been brought up, who their influences are, what events have happened in their lives to perhaps trigger certain reactions, what makes them ‘tick’. Which basically means, that we probably shouldn’t judge at all, because how many of us have all that information about another? Of course, using the meat/vegetarian example, the meat eater should also not criticise the vegetarian without understanding the reasoning behind THEIR choice.
There are many other examples of judgements, for instance, you yell at the person who cut you off in traffic, and sped ahead, calling them all sorts of names. But do you know WHY they did it? Maybe they were rushing to the hospital in an emergency. Maybe they were stressed out about a very bad situation at home, and weren’t thinking what they were doing (we all tune out when our mind is on something else). Maybe they were late for work and worried they would be fired, and can’t afford to lose their job, as their children rely on them. Yes, they may have driven dangerously, but do we still have the right to judge in a fashion that tars that person as a BAD person? The action was bad, not the person.
Even more simple things like judging someone on the way they dress applies here. You may think someone looks old-fashioned, or sloppy, but maybe that is all they know, they have never been shown how to dress well. Maybe they have no money, so shop at the thrift/charity store, and have to take what they can get. Maybe clothes are of so little importance to them, that they don’t really care what they look like, it is not a priority. So does that mean you should judge them? NO. They are just different to you.
I am referring here to everyday situations in which we make judgements on people. Of course, if your life was threatened you would have to make a very quick judgement about what to do. This is a different type of judgement. We also need to make a certain amount of judgements throughout our day e.g. whether to spend more money or not, but usually these sorts of judgements ARE based on information we already have.
There are abundant reasons why people act the way they do, but unless we know those reasons, who are we to appoint ourselves judge, jury and executioner? So please, next time you are about to make an instant judgement on another, stop and consider, either find out more about the WHY behind it, or suspend judgement, and allow the person the benefit of the doubt. After all, have you NEVER done anything for which people might judge you? I doubt it, so remember, only those that are innocent should cast the first stone.