No matter where we are in life, no matter our station in life, no matter where we live or where we were born, you and I have this much in common: We have no right to judge anyone else.
There’s a story, which I’m told is a true story, about a man who gets on a subway early one morning in New York City with three kids. There’s no mom in sight and dad appears as though he couldn’t care less what the kids were up to.
As the dad sits on the subway, the kids basically terrorize the other passengers. They run up and down the aisle, knocking people’s newspapers from their hands and spilling their coffee in all directions. All this as the dad sits there staring into space.
After a short time one of the passengers has had enough, and finally shouts at the dad. He yells that the dad should get his kids under control, and asks what’s wrong with him. (If I had been on the subway I might not have been that shouting passenger but I sure wouldn’t have had a problem with what they was saying)
The dad awakens from his stupor and begins to apologize profusely. He tells the passenger that he and his kids are just on their way home from the hospital, where the kids mother and his wife passed away earlier that morning.
So, what do you think of the dad now? How many of you were just like me? How many of you judged the man, to be a poor father or an irresponsible father? I did! I’ll bet if you’re honest about it, many of you did too.
Here’s the worst part, I’ve heard or told that story dozens of times, and I still judge. Even though I know how the story ends, I still judge. I say well maybe that father has an excuse but that doesn’t excuse everyone else that takes their kids to a public place and just turns them loose. Don’t you just hate that when people let their kids interrupt your day and disrupt what you’re doing?
I judge with little or no evidence on which to evaluate the person, I judge by applying my beliefs and values to the person I’m judging. My built in bias says if they don’t share those beliefs then there is something “off” about them. I’ll bet there are a ton of people reading this post that are just like me.
It’s taken me many years and it’s still a BIG work in progress but here’s what I know for sure. When I judge someone I almost always get it wrong. When I seek to understand someone, I almost always get it right. Here’s something else that’s almost always true; when I understand, there is no longer a need to judge.
This week let’s first seek to understand. Let’s talk and think in terms of the other person’s interest. Let’s value their differences, let’s see what we might learn from them.
You just might be surprised at how “un” different people are when you really get to know them.
So no judging, let’s leave that to the people in the robes!