Why do we feel the insane need to judge others? Why can’t we simply enjoy our own lives and let others enjoy theirs? Or at the very least why can’t we just leave others alone? Meddling has become an art form. I swear it has. There’s just something so… American about getting all up in somebody else’s business, and making our home there, whether we’re welcome or not.
I honestly don’t know where I was going with that. It’s just that way too often lately I’m reminded that we don’t know everything about others, that we judge them based on what we think we see, but we don’t have the full picture. Because we think the world should revolve around us we see things through the lens that IS us, through our own experiences and the way we would do things.
But others are not us. They have their own lives, their own circumstances, and their own thoughts. They do things their way, whether we like it or not, because they don’t live their lives for us. So even when we think we know better, we need to remind ourselves that we don’t, that it’s their choice to make. We need to remind ourselves that we are mere pebbles in the stream, all working to find purchase.
We often judge because we either don’t understand, or we misinterpret. How often have you seen the show where the audience knows what the main characters are talking about but the entire half hour is spent with them upset with each other because of misinterpretation? Or the Shakespeare play where each Act builds on the previous one, and almost leads to absolute ruin before the characters realize they’ve judged all wrong. Oops.
Yet it’s not just judging based on misinformation, or on a lack of understanding, or even on our misguided perception. It’s judging based on preconceived notions of entire groups. I see way too much lately in my feed about how, “Republicans are douchebags who care more about their guns than about other people.” And I see way too many instances of, “Those stupid democrats know that gun laws won’t stop killing, right?”
Which is precisely why we continue to have this divide. Why can’t we all just get together to say that what happened was WRONG, that it should never have happened, that we need to ALL figure out a way to stop these things from happening.
Because I haven’t gotten numb to this kind of violence. Each instance fills me with a sense of dread, of a deep sadness that threatens to overrun my soul, thinking of how far humanity still has to come… together. I will never be numb to this kind of violence, but I will also not take out my anger and sadness on others. All that does is foster the same kind of atmosphere that led these people to believe that was the answer, that led these people to think that was the only way they could make some kind of statement.
I won’t judge them. I will judge their deeds, which were heinous, and I will mourn those who lost their lives, and the ones who were left behind.
This is not about democrats or republicans, about agendas and gun lobbies. This is about humanity, about the ongoing fight for relevance that will never end while there are people around who breathe. Because humanity has always been about judging others, about making ourselves out to be better than whomever, about survival of the fittest. Humanity has always been about getting over, getting by, by any means necessary. Of course as we have progressed it has become easier to take out our aggression on those we judge, who judge us in return.
This is human nature. That’s why it’s such a fight to be nice, not to judge others, to be quality human beings. That’s why people say they “strive” to be good, because it’s something we have to strive for, because human nature is not good. It’s in our nature to be our base selves, to demean others just for the sake of demeaning them. It’s in our nature to get pleasure from belittling those around us in order to raise ourselves up. We push them down so that we can rise.
But it’s wrong. It’s wrong to hold others down, to wish the worst for them, to judge them for what they cannot help. To judge them for who they are. Because we are just as bad. We are just as responsible for the things we do as they are, for the times we have judged others when we haven’t been innocent ourselves. We need to come together, not to take pleasure in discord. We need to learn the lessons from all these acts of violence, because contrary to popular opinion, they’re not senseless. It’s only when we can learn from them, when we try to make sense of the chaos, that we can truly progress, that humanity can learn its lesson.
I think back to Klebold and Harris, names that will forever be etched in my consciousness, and I feel sorry for them. I feel sorry for their victims, a category the two of them also fit into, and I grieve even today. The same is true of every single instance between then and now, between Columbine and Vegas, and for all the instances to come, because I know it’s not over. I don’t judge those who did this, nor those who paid the ultimate price. I don’t pray for them or for their souls either. Prayer is not going to help anything or anyone. It’s only when we stop saying we are helpless, that we couldn’t have done anything, only then when we can truly make a difference.
Because making a difference doesn’t mean praying. It doesn’t mean banding together to send money and supplies to the victims. It means making connections with others every day, so that no one falls through the cracks. It means getting people with issues some honest to goodness help, not just paying the whole thing lip service and then shaking our heads when bad things happen. “Not on our watch,” we tell ourselves, because we honestly think we were watching and trying to help. This is a method of patting ourselves on the back, on saying how good we are when we’ve done absolutely nothing.
Then we sit back, and we judge them. Even worse, we judge those around us, the whole rhetoric of democrat vs. republican just window dressing for the two sides that can’t be separated so cleanly — good and evil. Because everyone has the capacity for both. After all, it’s human nature. So we must fight human nature every second of every day. We must try to make a difference.
And it starts with no more judging. No more.