Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – September 27, 2004
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – September 27, 2004 – Perhaps I should just say – “being judgmental”. As much as I’d like to believe that I don’t make judgements about other people, I do it all the time. Sometimes it’s at a sub-conscious level. I know this because I can be in a public place, surrounded by other people, and I’ll suddenly be aware that I’ve seen a person and had a gut level reaction to them.
I will have unconsciously decided that I feel safe or not, that the person is probably a business person or not, that they are well dressed or not, that I would engage them in conversation or not, that they have money or not, or that they might be someone I might like to meet or not. This all happens in the blink of an eye. Ruling people, places and things in and out of my life with nothing more than a cursory glance.
I once read in an interview manual that an individual has about two minutes to make a good first impression on another person. If we’re surfing the Internet, a website will attract and hold our attention, or not, within a mere fourteen seconds.
My judgement isn’t reserved just for others. I start a lot of mornings with an enumeration of my own deficiencies. Unfortunate hair day – don’t like my jacket – feeling a little frumpy in this dress – too bad I don’t have a tan because this shirt always looks better if I have a little colour – I should have found time to have my car washed before I met my clients – I wish I had more energy to exercise – I shouldn’t have had that second piece of raison bread with jam.
The act of “judging” is exhausting, demeaning, unfair and universal. However, it can be beneficial if you’re in a position where your instincts tell you there is something wrong with the way a person is behaving, or if a place just doesn’t feel quite right. Your judgement in that situation could be life-saving. This should be the exception to the rule, but most of the time we rush to judgement based on very flimsy information.
I remember years ago, being at an open house I was holding for one of my listings, when an elderly man came into the foyer of the house, and asked if he could look around. He spoke broken English, but he seemed quite interested as he walked through the property. He took one of my detailed feature sheets with him when he left. I assumed he was just an old man who was nosey, bored or both.
I never gave him another thought. It never crossed my mind that he might be a wealthy individual who owned numerous properties around the city. He called me a couple of months later to list one of his many houses. He said he’d remembered me because I’d been so friendly, hard working, patient and detailed. Did I ever mis-judge him!
People routinely call others – stupid, idiotic, lazy, unethical, boring, snobby, spoiled and untrustworthy. We make judgements based on our past history with people and we judge people we don’t even know. We make all sorts of assumptions about people based on their age, gender, sexual orientation, colour, race, religion, education, income level, careers, homes, cars, clothes, children and appearance.
I wonder how many times these judgements are wrong? I wonder how many times the suppositions that I make are unfair and incorrect? The best I can do, without being a psychic, it to be aware of my tendency to judge others, and take a step back when I find myself making assumptions without facts to back them up. I’d also be smart if I learned to leave behind the many, small judgements I make about myself and started to celebrate my strengths instead.
Imagine the world if people embraced their differences, were accepting of the opinions of others without necessarily agreeing with them, asked before assuming and were tolerant of everyone’s right to lead their own lives as they wish. What if nations respected one another? What if they willingly shared their resources and offered help with no strings attached?
I think that’s what God had in mind for us and we’ve strayed a long way off course. I don’t think God ever loses faith in us, but neither is he going to fix this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. It’s about time for us to show the true strength of the human spirit and find our way out of the maze. Understanding isn’t far behind once judgement has been suspended in favour of tolerance.