07 March, 2013

Judgments, assumptions, and hatred, oh my

I've been thinking a lot lately about how we, as humans, have gotten more brazen with our judgements. I spoke about it some on facebook yesterday, but I feel like it's still weighing heavily on my mind, so I need to get it out.

Think back to ten years ago. If you saw someone in the grocery store wearing something you found inappropriate, you would judge them. Duh. So would I. But here's the difference; then, we would have shared a quiet snicker with the person with us, and forgotten about it by the time we got home. Now, the second we see it, we're stalking them, trying to sneak a picture. If we can't, we describe them in great detail, include our assumption of the situation, and post it to facebook. Don't deny it, I've done it too. It's so easy, and there's this feeling of safety, because it's the internet. If someone doesn't like it, we're hidden, safe in our own home. We can't see their reaction, how they raise their eyebrows as they scroll past it. If they choose to say something not in agreement with us, then we get defensive. Don't read my page, then! Delete me! You don't have to comment.

I feel like it's making us less compassionate. I'm not trying to say that we should just remove ourselves from society, or hand out $100 bills to strangers, or even ignore something that is blatantly dumb/ironic/amusing. But there is a delicate balance between the fleeting judgmental thought that crosses our mind initially, and taking the time to write/talk about someone whose life and situation is completely unknown to us.

I know it's not always easy. Everyone has bad days, days where everything frustrates them, and the smallest mistake on the part of another person can seem like a catastrophe. I know that sometimes you just need to vent, let off some steam, and sometimes the easiest way to do that is to tear other people down.

But tearing other people down just because you don't know them isn't a solution, it's a deeper problem.

It hurts my soul when I see people I know and love spewing judgment and hatred, tearing complete strangers down so unnecessarily.

The frazzled mom with four kids who's $20 short on her grocery bill, and looks like she's about to burst into tears? Her husband of 17 years transferred their life saving to an offshore account in his girlfriends name, and quit paying the mortgage. She's about to be homeless but can't get help since she's still technically married.

The 'thug' in a hoodie in the middle of summer, lurking in the grocery store parking lot? He's covering up burn scars on his arms, given to him by his own abusive mother. That's also who he's avoiding.

The pretty girl in the checkout line, paying with food stamps but sporting a nice outfit and freshly cut hair? She saved change for a month so that she could afford to buy something nice from a discount store, and look appropriate for an important job interview.

The short guy in the giant truck, the one you're rolling your eyes at and mentally accusing of having a 'complex'? He was in a car accident last week. He can't afford a rental, but a friend loaned him the truck so he could run some errands.

That girl you called a 'meth head' over there, missing her front teeth? She was beat into a coma trying to fight off her mothers drunk boyfriend. She spends more time volunteering at a domestic violence shelter than she does working, so she can't afford the dental work she needs.

The cashier who didn't smile at you? He got a phone call on his lunch break that his dad's cancer came back, and he has less than a year to live.

The jerk that cut you off, and is speeding like a maniac? He just got a hang-up call from his girlfriend, who's currently being stalked by her violent ex.

The pregnant teenager you called a slut? She was on her way to becoming a doctor until she was drugged and raped at a party; her ultra religious parents blamed her, and refused to let her get an abortion. She's being forced to quit school and get a job.

The old lady at the mall that asked you for help with something, and then proceeded to take 30 minutes talking about her life? She could be your future husbands grandmother. She could have an envelope full of cash in her purse, and just be looking for a kindred spirit to share it with.

I'm not saying I'm perfect, or that I don't judge anyone. I do. It's human nature, and in a lot of cases, the thoughts cross our minds before we even realize they're forming. But what we are in control of is how we react - whether or not we treat that person based on our initial (and probably wrong) assumptions, or whether we are able to step back, and treat them with dignity and respect, without bias.

I have been on both sides of the situation, I've had assumptions I made about people get proved wrong, and I've had people judge me. It's not a nice feeling, to be cast to the fringes, to know that people are talking about you, scrutinizing your every moment, waiting for you to fail. It sucks. It adds unnecessary stress, and in some cases, it can make an already broken down soul think that there is nothing to look forward to.

I don't want to alienate anyone by speaking my mind about this. I just want to make people realize that judging other people only hurts yourself. People know when they're being judged, but in most cases, you are the least of their worries.

Next time you find yourself mentally assaulting a stranger, take a step back. First, think about your day. Did something happen that made you upset? Are you taking your frustrations out on a stranger? Second, look down. What are you wearing? Carrying? Who's with you? Because in all honestly, someone else is probably judging you too.

And third, think about this: people like to throw around the phrase 'Everything happens for a reason" when something bad happens, but if you truly believe that, they take a quick second to dissect it. Everything. EVERYTHING happens for a reason. The girl who held you up at Target, made you 10 minutes late to dinner, and who was dressed so atrociously you had to memorize every detail of her outfit so that you could post about it later...was in a car accident after she left. A car accident that you could have been in, had she not slowed you down. But you were so busy rushing home and making fun of her on facebook, you didn't even hear about it.

1 comment:

  1. This is so true. I am really trying to be less judgmental and talk less smack, but it's hard. Baby steps!