Regardless of Our Best Intentions, We All Judge Others
When I came home sobbing because all the kids on the bus were chanting “Great Big Gobs of Greasy Grimey Gopher Guts,” Mom always responded with the same words: “Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged!” It was the perfect chant to bully a kid with the last name of Grimes, and it cut to the core. I hated them for it, and I wanted to get even. Mom dried the tears on my cheeks and reminded me of what she felt was the most significant Bible lesson of all: Judge Not!
It’s impossible to turn on the television today and not find yourself judging the issues that face us every waking moment.
Barbara Markway, Ph.D., in an article in Psychology Today, quoted this story:
Psychologist and meditation teacher Tara Brach frequently tells this story: Imagine you are walking through the woods and you see a small dog. It looks cute and friendly. You approach and move to pet the dog. Suddenly it snarls and tries to bite you. The dog no longer seems cute, and you feel fear and possibly anger. Then, as the wind blows, the leaves on the ground are carried away, and you see the dog has one of its legs caught in a trap. Now, you feel compassion for the dog. You know it became aggressive because it is in pain and is suffering.
What can we learn from this story? How can we turn into a less judgmental person?
Mom Taught Me To Count to Ten
It’s nearly impossible for a child under the age of ten, who is reeling from the abuse, to take a deep breath before reacting. Mom insisted I count to ten before I responded to anything. I tried to understand why God expected kindness from me when it seemed everyone else was either mean or uncaring. So, I buckled under the threats if I told anyone of my abuse. But, I couldn’t understand why it looked like everyone wanted to hurt me. Was I completely worthless?
I voiced plenty of hints, but no one seemed to pick up on the terror of my words. What I didn’t know then, was that people back in the fifties refused to talk about the horrific acts of others. That included the adults who never probed when I made pointed comments, like “Go ahead and hit me, you can’t hurt me any more than you already have.”
In the end, counting to ten turned out to be a blessing. It gave me the time to think my reaction through before I said something I’d regret. I still use Mom’s advice when things get sticky in life.
When I heard Roy Moore’s words in December that it was inconceivable that a woman would wait forty years to come forward, I suddenly knew I believed the woman who spoke against him. I didn’t speak out for fifty years.
For all those years, I continued to be terrified of the man. It wasn’t until he died that I chose to share my story. There was no desire on my part to get even or gain sympathy. I shared my account in the hope that other women could find the courage to come forward. The silence demanded by our ancestors has ended.
I don’t judge the man who hurt me. There is no justice, nor will there ever be, for the life-long trauma caused by the actions of people who feel entitled. If I’ve learned nothing else from the drama of the past year, it’s that at the end of the day I have to look in the mirror and know who I am.
Judgement and hatred seem to have permeated every corner of the country the adults taught me to love and die for if necessary. What is happening now, is beyond judgment. It’s heart-breaking.
Don’t Judge – Listen With Compassion
“Never underestimate the pain of a person,” Will Smith said, “because, in all honesty, everyone is struggling.”
“Something terrible must have happened to that boy when he was young, to have made him do those horrible things.” These were my grandfather’s words about the Boston Strangler on the day they arrested him. I was in my teens when he spoke those words, and they have affected how I’ve viewed everything since.
I find myself wondering what our President’s life was like when he was small. Did all that wealth affect the way his family treated him? I look at his youngest son now and pray he has experienced a loving childhood.
Compassion is something we usually experience as a child. We pick up the butterfly lying dead on the ground hoping it will fly away. I was so blessed to be surrounded by (mostly) a family filled with love and compassion for others. Mom sent all our out-grown clothing to the children of Appalachia. We spent hours in the kitchen preparing food to take to the church. Church and Sunday School were a large part of our lives.
I took dinner over to a neighbor last fall who had just had surgery. Her eyes were big as she stated, “No one does this anymore.” I can only ask each of you…Why Not?
It’s Normal to Think Critically
We were taught from childhood to think critically. We gather all the information available to us and then make a decision.
It’s not surprising we have television stations which report information from different standpoints. Some come close to communicating topics from both viewpoints.
Others expect us to take all the information and make an educated and logical decision. The problem is that we can never be sure we have all the information.
That’s why it’s so vitally important that we not jump to conclusions.
Everyone has a story. Each of us sees things differently based on our beliefs, background, and socio-economic place in life.
The bottom line comes right back to Mother’s warning: Judge Not!
The best we can do is to make our judgments based on honest information. There is a risk in each of those decisions.
Where we have to draw our line, is to avoid making our judgmental thoughts public. One thing I’ve learned for sure is that respect has nothing to do with wealth.
My husband refers to his father as the fairest man he’s ever met. I describe Grandpa Burton as the kindest man I’ve ever met.