Here Comes the Judge

“To judge others is human. To keep your opinion about others to yourself is having class.” ~Anonymous

Judging others is as easy as breathing. We do it from the start of any and all interactions with others.

“His name is Norman?”

“She has big ears.”

“Why does his nose whistle when he talks?”

“His suit is loud.”

We do it so much without thinking, but luckily most of us have filters that stop us from saying these things in the moment. Our brains sort through all the judgments and hopefully land on positive (or at least neutral) things to say. Maybe the old adage is best: “If you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all.” Or the biblical quote about the plank in your eye. Or the pot calling the kettle black psychology. Whichever you subscribe to, let it rule your mind in those moments.

In our society, though, I’ve noticed anyway that too many people feel empowered to say all those negative things we used to always keep to ourselves (or just tell our closest friends, who tell their closest friends…). Instead of these thoughts dissipating, they gather steam on social media. They marinate and infuse every ounce of our interactions with others. They are personal comments that belong to us, but they seep out into the social realm where we can’t take them back. Continue reading “Here Comes the Judge”

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Friend-vitations

friend2Remember all that talk a few days ago about how I try not to judge others? Well, I thought about it some more, and I realized I most decidedly do judge some people without even knowing I’m doing it. Let me tell you a story…

When I first moved to Newport a little over 12 years ago I was very aware that I was the only black person living in the village, and that was okay with me. I made my decision to be with the woman I love and I wasn’t looking back, but it was hard not to notice that I was the only black person who lived here. Just walking down the street became an experience, and it didn’t hit me until later that I enjoyed the attention.

But, as time went by the area became slightly more diversified, and I found myself one of three black people living in the village, one of whom married a woman across the street. So, instead of being uniquely different I became just another someone who has lived here for 12 years, and I guess I blamed this other guy for that. Of course it wasn’t his fault that I had internalized being the only one as part of my identity, but trying to reason it away was to no avail.

He took to me right away, too. It was almost like he was a drowning man clutching on to a lifeline when we first met. In fact, I had been walking down the street at the time, and he had driven by in his SUV. Suddenly he stopped and waited for me to reach his car, rolled own his window, and this was our first conversation.

“How’s it going, brother?” he asked me in a loud voice.

“I’m okay,” I answered warily.

“You know, we brothers gotta stick together,” he said, undeterred.

“That sounds about right,” I said, taken aback.

“So when are we gonna do something?” he asked.

“We’ll figure it out,” I answered. And I walked away.

I had no plans whatsoever to do anything with this man. In fact, I made up my mind that day that I was going to avoid him at all costs. What? He felt a kinship with me just because we happened to both be black? Or was it that we both have children of mixed race? Whatever it was, I felt like he wouldn’t have been making the overture, or he wouldn’t have been overly familiar, had I been just another guy walking down the street and didn’t look the way I look. And I took offense. I judged him for it. Continue reading “Friend-vitations”

Dear Journal: Judge Not

3D_Judges_GavelDear Journal,

I’ve been once again descended upon by people who feel they can judge, in whatever form those judgements take. And I don’t mean judging me, but judging others around me. It happens at work, in social situations, and even just in random overheard conversation. They judge their family members, coworkers, and famous people in equal measure. Although the judging of famous people has become a fever pitch in recent weeks.

“I am not a role model.” ~Charles Barkley

I’m reminded of this quote anytime people start jumping on the “holier than thou” bandwagon, soapbox, or whatever you want to call it. He who is without sin cast the first stone. Right? But it seems like anyone with a twitter account feels self-righteous enough to talk about how they would discipline Miley if she were their kid, or how they would chemically castrate Ray Rice for knocking his fiance out in an elevator. And I’ve heard and read a lot worse, believe me. If there’s one thing all this celebrity judging reminds me is that everyone is human. Everyone has issues. So how do we — the masses — have a right to judge them, these people we don’t even know?

And it gets even uglier when talking about people we know, people we are supposed to at the least have a little tact about. But there seems to be a dearth of tact anymore, at least around here anyway. I honestly don’t even care if people feel a certain way about others, but the loud nature of the gossip surrounding them, and the depth of the judgements against others, it’s a bit frightening. Back in the day (I can’t believe I’m legitimately using this phrase), it was all about being nice and keeping quiet, but today it’s all about being loud and abrasive.

“Judge not that ye be not judged.”

Now me, I don’t believe in judging people at all, not in your mind and certainly not vocalizing that judgement, but I will admit I struggle with judging in my mind. It’s hard when others do things that I wouldn’t do, but that’s them, and not me. I can only judge my own motivations, not theirs. Human nature is to judge, which also makes it difficult. But fighting that nature is one of the best things you can do because there is so much good in life you can miss by not giving people the benefit of the doubt.

I mean, doesn’t it mean more if you fight that nature and discover more beauty in the world than you imagined possible? I think it is.

Sam

Reason to Believe

Rod-Stewart-Reason-To-Believe-430727“If I gave you time to change my mind, I’d tried to leave all the past behind. Knowin’ that you lied straight-faced while I cried, still I look to find a reason to believe.” – Rod Stewart

I want to believe the best in others. In fact, anytime I meet someone knew I give them the benefit of the doubt, even if I’ve heard things about them that might give others pause. I guess I’m just naive maybe, but I think I should get to know someone myself before judging them. Too often I think we tend to judge others based on hearsay instead of talking to them first.

I’ll admit I’m not perfect. Maybe that’s why I want to give others a chance, because I wish they wouldn’t pre-judge me. That’s one of the glories of human nature, though, and too many have bought into the theory that if enough people say something that makes it true. Too often those mistaken beliefs will cloud our vision. That’s not to say that sometimes those rumours and assertions aren’t true, because, yes, sometimes they are, but let me find that out for myself.

Perhaps that’s why I have several friends who don’t seem to have any other friends besides me. Which is okay by me. It’s like finding diamonds in the rough, like I have a secret society of superheroes who have powers others simply don’t appreciate. Now, that doesn’t mean I let people walk all over me. Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness, but I do give people that benefit of the doubt. I believe wholeheartedly in the adage, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

But romantic relationships are different, though, right? We guard our hearts like a vault. But I will admit I haven’t. Continue reading “Reason to Believe”

Getting Cliqueish

group“I don’t put people into groups like the jocks, the goths, and the nerds do. I’m a free-thinker. Everyone should be more like me.”

To an extent we all judge others, whether they’re short or tall, large or small, black or white, gay or straight, or any other dichotomies that exist the whole world over, but too often we live in denial. I remember when I was younger I insisted that I never judged anyone, and all that did was lend itself to even more judgmental behavior. If we deny that we judge others, how can we possibly hope to remedy the situation?

As human beings, we tend to spend time around others who are like us. Either they come from the same type of background as we do, they have the same hobbies as we do, or they share the same ideologies we espouse. It’s not often that you see a pair of true opposites who are close friends, and that’s for a reason. Too many people don’t take the time to get to know others who are not fundamentally the same as they are. We are too busy getting cliqueish.

I think about those forms we fill out, you know, the ones that ask for our information. If only more of us would check the “Other” box. Seriously, we identify one way or another, but if we just gave ourselves a chance to think about it we might see that we are giving ourselves short shrift. There are so many more facets to our personalities, to our mentalities, and to our essential selves, that we neglect to see because we’re so busy forcing ourselves into the pre-confined boxes. What I honestly love is when the “Other” box is followed by a line where you can expound upon what truly makes you different, what really helps you to exist outside of those other boxes.

And so cliques form. You’ve seen them. They have their own language. When you first stumble upon them in the wild you can almost will yourself to believe they make sense, but they don’t, except to themselves. Usually these cliques form around the largest thing you have in common, so you don’t ever delve any deeper. That’s not to say that cliques can’t be fulfilling to the people who live inside of them. There is an undeniable connection there. But imagine taking those same people, choosing another facet of their personality, and matching them up with others who share that, then doing it again, and again, and again. There are so many sides to every single human being that it could be endless, and the combinations of connections that could be made is also endless.

I imagine a world like that, where we don’t judge others based on what we see on the outside, when we delve deeper to figure out who people really are, to look at them from all sides and connect on those other levels. A place where we all check the “Other” box and use another whole sheet of paper to explain why we don’t identify with those standard responses. A world where we don’t get cliqueish just because we can, or because it’s comfortable, but where we instead embrace our whole selves and we seek out that difference in others.

But first, we have to accept that we judge others, or nothing will change.

Sam

Flawless

4362daf57fa21b78372d3b8f1183b595“We are, at our essence, inherently flawed beings who nevertheless consistently insist upon denigrating others for being just as flawed as we suppose we are not.” -Theodicus, 1896

Why do we have an overwhelming tendency to judge others? What is it in our makeup that makes us believe we are better than other people when we are all the same? Everyone has made some stupid decisions in their lives. Some were lucky enough to live through them, while others went completely under. But for everyone who has survived a stupid decision, have they truly survived or are they paying for it through the rumor mill for the rest of their lives? Wow, there are a lot of questions in this paragraph, but it honestly makes me think about the world we live in and why anyone would want to be honest when they’re just going to be judged one way or another in perpetuity.

I’m not saying I’m immune to it either, but at least I think about it. And I am grateful to those people who also think about it before judging others because nobody’s perfect. My father used to always say that the only difference between us and people in jail is that they got caught, and I honestly think he’s right on that one. So many of us have deep, dark secrets that we hope never come to light, even if just for the embarrassment factor, but what we really worry about is the judgment of others. We spend so much time trying to be what others imagine we are that we forget who we really are. And if people are truly your friends they won’t judge you for the stupid mistakes you’ve made.

Hmmm. But wait. Continue reading “Flawless”

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