I save many of the little quotes that Jack Freed uses in his daily blog Jack’s Winning Words. I save them because I know that sometime in the future they will inspire me to write something. Sometimes I notice that two or three of them just seem to go together and reinforce or strengthen the message behind the quotes. This morning, as I perused my collection of quotes from Jack’s blog these three just seemed to jump out as belonging together.
“If you could stand in someone else’s shoes, would you treat them differently?” (Whitney Hess)
“Don’t judge some just because they sin differently than you.” (From Katie Wiese)
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” (Carl Jung)
In one way or another they all speak to the topic of judging others and doing so only from our own perspective. When we see people of different ethnic backgrounds, perhaps we begin to question. Do they look different than me? Do they dress different than me? Do they speak different from me? Do they act different from me? Do they have opinions that are different from mine? Do they sin differently than me?
Since the answer for many, if not all, of those questions that we quickly run over in our minds may be yes (at least in our opinion); we rush to a judgement that they irritate us or worse that we should fear and hate them. Perhaps they have done nothing more than stand in front of us, but we have rushed to a judgement based solely upon what we can see and our preconceived notions about what that means.
If we took a moment to really think about what was happening we would see that the shiny mirror of judgement was showing us an ugly reflection of our own sins and shortcomings. Perhaps we would even make the leap of understanding that Jung was alluding to in his quote and “see” the things in ourselves that need to be corrected.
Why do the clothes than someone is wearing or the color or style of their hair irritate you? Why does their accent when they speak bother you? What possible difference does it make to you if they have tattoos or nose rings or other things that you might not have? Unless they have a weapon and are aggressively approaching you, why do you feel threatened or uneasy with their presence? In what way does their sexual orientation or preferences impact you directly?
All of the things that you may notice about others and which may for some reason irritate you or may cause you to rush to a judgement are things that you should be asking yourself, “What different does that make?” Those things have nothing to do with what kind of person that individual may be and they may not be any more offensive than the look, clothes, and speech that you present to the world to anyone but you.
Can your rush to judgement withstand the spotlight of the question “Why”?
Why does that make me uneasy? Why am I offended by something that they have done or maybe not done? Why am I irritated by their accent with which they speak? Why does the color of their skin immediately make a difference to me? Why do I immediately fear them or hate them, when I don’t even know them?
Maybe you should be asking, “What is it about me that makes me feel this way?” What prejudices or preconceived judgement has caused me to jump to this conclusion.? What can I do to avoid jumping to a judgement before I even know them.
Any pause for self-reflection, before you jump all the way to a conclusion, is a good thing. It gives you the opportunity to reexamine old prejudices and forces you to see them for what they are. It also give you the opportunity to adjust your attitude before you act. It allows you to use the shiny mirror of judgement for some quick self-examination. Maybe it will allow you to put a smile on the face that you see there to replace the scowl that was there.
So, before you judge others; stare into the shiny mirror and look within yourself.