Step 3 - Stop judging, start loving

Over the next few months, I'll be basing my articles on this "12 Steps to Happiness" post.Martin Luther King said, "I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."Albert Einstein said, "It is harder to crack a prejudice than an atom." Mark Twain said, "You can't depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of focus."

What is your favorite quote or saying about judgment, and how are your actions reflecting it? We live in such a polarised society when it comes to judging, I'm really not quite sure where to begin trying to make sense of it all. It's so confusing to hear some outspoken Christians say God is the one reserving final judgment, when on earth those same people speak out violently against gays and followers of different religions. It is confusing to try and keep an open mind when interacting with people, hearing a horror story, then taking circumstances into account and seeing those clear black and white lines disappear. I have a friend who's a judge, and with his job comes such tremendous responsibility I am in awe every time I think about how he is listening to statements and then having to make life-changing decisions. What would life be like is Mme de Staël Corinne's phrase, "to know all is to forgive all" were reality?

I grew up in a small town and was taught not to point fingers, but at the same time there was always gossip about one person or another. Mistakes were nothing private or personal, nor were they regarded as learning opportunities; they were fodder for the over-the-fence brigades of righteous know-it-alls. Everybody was talking behind everybody's backs and of course the gossipers knew exactly what the gossipees should do to get their life in order. I learned there's a fine line between the helpful embrace of a tight-knit community, and the stranglehold of a place and people that disregard the right to privacy and show no mercy. It was refreshing when I experienced the indifference and freedom of life in a bigger city later on.

Being on the move for the last 14 years I'd like to think the different cultures I've lived in and all the people I have met so far have helped broaden my horizon and open my mind a little bit. In fact, I'm sure it has. However, I still find myself forming an opinion about things and people upon the initial glance. Now, is that judging in the bad sense, or just expressing an opinion or a preference?

In any case, judging isn't always a bad thing. It is human nature to assess a situation on the go and it is sometimes lifesaving to decide on the spot when a person or an alley doesn't look trustworthy. It becomes a problem when you think all persons and all alleys are bad, when you're generalising one specific experience across the board. I also think judgment and prejudice become a serious problem if you're not willing to review and reassess your opinion after finding out more about what or whom you've been judging. You look at a fat person and think, "How can they not know when to stop eating?", when you're the one not knowing they have a hormone imbalance or a thyroid problem. Not everybody is the same, but everybody has feelings, and you'll find that out when you take the time to talk to people.

My friend has to make his decisions after careful deliberation, and it would have been nice if folks from my hometown could have shown the same consideration at times. It's ok, though, if they don't, because at the end of the day, "When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself." (Wayne Dyer)

Til next time!


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