Admit it, learn from it, change…

June 19, 2021

I recently stumbled upon an inspirational site that has meaningful messages found in song lyrics from Disney movies, or maybe it stumbled upon me…I forget. Anyway, I must admit that I saw only a couple of the many Disney movies that were referenced at the site. I chose one of the posts to that site for my musings this morning.

Bittersweet and strange
Finding you can change
Learning you were wrong
— “Tale As Old As Time,” “Beauty and the Beast”

Setting aside for a moment that this is an animated movie and that the song was sung by a teapot, there is wisdom to be found in the lyrics.

The key insight in this message is “learning you were wrong”. How many of us fight long and hard not to have to admit that we were wrong? Wrong about a person or a place or thing; or, perhaps, wrong about in a long-held belief.

There is a series of commercials running right now about The General Insurance Company. The commercials feature Shaquille O’Neal and contain messages about people being wrong about the insurance company because of their past commercials. The message that it is trying to get across is that The General really is a serious and good insurance company, despite their past, silly commercials.

How often do we judge things and people by their appearance or through association with other people or events? THEY become stigmatized by being part of the group “THEM”, and we are happy to lump them all together and dismiss them because of that association in our minds. How lazy and wrong of us.

Each person that we meet deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt and we should use that old justice phrase “Innocent until proven guilty” in our minds before rushing to a judgement of association. About the only thing that one can tell, just by looking at them is that they are a human being. Anything else at that point is a guess and likely a bad one at that.

One might say, well I can see what color their skin is; to which I would answer, “and that means what?” Or, you might say I can tell what sex they are, which I might challenge in the case of androgynous looking people and would further question whether just looking at them how you can determine if they identify with what you think you see. These are the types of judgements that we rush to in our everyday lives and perhaps the most important to try to overcome – to change.

Learning you were wrong only comes after admitting that you were wrong, and that is the hard part for most. For most of us, our preconceived notions and prejudices become part of our defensive shields – the things that we keep up to protect us from harm (real or imagined). It is just safer and easier to avoid having to interact with “those kinds of people”, than to put our shields down take the time and make the effort to really see what kind of person they are.

Yet taking that time and making that effort is what leads to the “bittersweet and strange” part of the lyric, when you find a new friend in that person that you at first avoided.  You will find that you can change. Finding that you can change is the first step to admitting that you were wrong; and admitting that is the first step to learning, which eventually leads to wisdom. Perhaps that is why we associate wisdom with age – it takes us way too long to admit we were wrong and learn from it.

Take another step on your journey to wisdom today. Think about the conclusions or judgements that you make based solely upon how someone looks and challenge yourself make the effort to really get to know the people that you meet today before you make any judgement about them at all. Even them, take the advice of Pope Francis and ask yourself the question, “Who am I to judge?” Once you put down the gavel of judgement, you may find that you meet a lot more interesting and friendly people and maybe make a few new friends.

Find that you can change today!

Judge not, lest ye be judged…

March 4, 2021

Lately, I have found quotes by Albert Camus to provide inspiration for my posts. Today, two Camus quotes just seem right to consider together –

“People hasten to judge in order not to be judged themselves.” ― Albert Camus

and “Do not wait for the last judgment. It comes every day.” ― Albert Camus

It seems to me that the basis of prejudice is judgement – the thought that something different isn’t right and thus must be feared. Fear is the underlying cause of prejudice. Just the fact that it is considered to be “not right” is a prejudice. There is often no intrinsic right or wrong in something, just one’s perception of it as being right or wrong. That perception is your personal judgement.

Today’s post title if from Matthew 7, 1:3  which goes on to say “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

I think that is what Camus is alluding to in the second quote. We should live as if our behavior is judged by God every day.

So, if one is not to judge others, what is one to do? There is guidance for that later in Matthew 12 –

 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Do we ever really stop and ask ourselves, “What would I have others do to me in this situation?” Probably not until after the fact, when guilt sets for some action that we have taken or words that we have said.

 Perhaps we need to reinforce each morning the caution against being judgmental by adding to our prayers just that single line from Matthew 7 and asking God to help you judge not, lest you be judged.

Try to imagine a day without judgements, without prejudices and pre-conceived notions. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful day? Now, see if you can go out and live that day.

The shiny mirror of judgement…

September 1, 2018

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 arrogantwe 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 mirrormeans.

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 irritategirl with nose chain 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”?

worriesWhy 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 forbored 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.

Try to understand…

August 30, 2017


From my usual source for inspiration, the Jack’s Winning Words blog, comes this bit of advice –

“If you would judge, understand.”  (Seneca)

Understanding the point of view and motivation of others for the actions that they take or the things that they say is perhaps one of the hardest things for us to do. We hear alljudge things sorts of sage advice about walking a mile in the other person’s shoes; and, of course, there is that old saw, “Judge not, lest ye be judged”. The truth is that we all rush to judge the actions and words of others based solely on our own point of view. Even if we pause to ask ourselves, “What could have made them do that?”, it is hard to really understand the perspective from which the other person was viewing the situation.

How then can we make use of Seneca’s advice? Perhaps if we understand that we are judging something or someone it will give us some time to consider that judgement in a different light. Why does whatever just happened need to be judged? Did it offend me or threaten me in some way? Did it disparage something or someone that I hold dear? Does my opinion or the action or the person really matter or change anything? How can I try to see and understand the motivation and point of view of the person who committedno judgement the act that I felt I must judge?

Mentally going through even a few of those questions or more that you might think of can take the edge off of your need to render judgement and may even help you see the other side of the issue that caused the incident. You still may not understand the other side; but, if you can at least acknowledge that there is an “other side”, you are on your way to understanding.

Many times judgments are snap decisions rendered out of the emotions of the moment. Going through that small mental exercise of questioning the need to react can take the arrogantsituation out of the emotional realm and puts it into the intellectual realm, where logic and intelligence tend to blunt the need for a reaction. It turns the reaction into an exercise in trying to understand. You may never truly understand the other person’s point of view and actions, but maybe you will also hold your judgement of them in acknowledgement that you really don’t understand. I’ll bet Seneca understood that when he coined his little phrase.

Have a great, judgement free day…

Don’t rush to judgement…

February 23, 2016

“Behind every person is s story; behind every story is a person. So think before you judge, because judging someone doesn’t label who they are, it labels who you are.” The Minds – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog recently.

There are many people who rush to judgement or even pre-judge people that they meet in boredday-to-day life, and that is their loss. What pops into your mind if you see a person of color coming towards you with dreadlocks and dresses in Hip Hop fashion? How about if you see a person dressed in distressed skinny jeans or a young lady with purple hair and a nose ring? Did you have good thoughts? Did you think, “Oh, how interesting, I want to meet this person”; or did your thoughts turn to “How can I avoid this person?” What do you think they were thinking about you?

It is all too easy and, unfortunately, all too normal to base our initial reactions and visualizingjudgement about people based solely upon their appearance. Others might rush to judge based upon their voice or maybe the vocabulary that they use or perhaps the accent that is evident in their speech. We all tend to stereotype or profile the people that we meet based upon some set of criteria that lurks in the back of our minds. That’s unfortunate and usually a mistake, since we have no real proof to go on when pre-judging people that we’ve just encountered.

It’s easy to understand the last part of today’s quote. It is this tendency to rush to some stereotypical judgement that leads to the labels racist or bigot or homophobic for the people who do the judging. Most would be quick to defend themselves; claiming not to be what they have been labeled; however, the proof is in their reactions and not their denials.predjuices The proof is usually found in their words to, since they tend to define broad categories of people that they have some issue about or judgement of. Thus, in their minds it is ALL blacks, or ALL gays, or ALL the homeless who possess and display the characteristics that they fear or abhor.

One wonders how these people might react if they were required to wear a scarlet letter like Hester Prynne, only with the letter B or maybe H on it, so that all could see their label. That would at least make it obvious at a glance to those who encounter them what kind of person they really are.

The real advice in today’s little quote is to take the time to get to the story behind the helperperson. I know that I’m not the only one who’s ever wondered how the homeless man sitting on the corner with a sign that reads “will work for food” got into that situation. We use a prayer for forgiveness in church every week,asking that we be forgiven for the things that we have done and those things that we have left undone.  I have not stopped to ask or to help and that is my loss for leaving that undone. When I have taken the time to get to the story behind the person that I see in front of me there is usually something to learn and someone that I end up enjoying knowing. Try it yourself: you might be pleasantly surprised.

Today, promise yourself, before you leave the house; that should you encounter someone who looks a little different or dresses a little different or speaks a little different that you will not rush to judgement. Be pleasant and say “Hi”. If the opportunity is there; rather than avoiding that person, introduce yourself and start the process of understanding the story behind that person. You might be fascinated by the story that unfolds and perhaps you’ll even make a new friend. You’ll also have the opportunity to dispel the preconceived notions that they might have about encountering you. After all, you can look pretty scary to them, too, with that scowl of disapproval on your face.

Don’t rush to judgement; rush to understanding instead.

Don’t rush to judgement…

August 20, 2015

“We should not judge until we see clearly; and when we see clearly, we will not judge.”  (G.D. Gregg) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Detroit Prosecutor Kim Worthy went to great lengths recently to explain her decision not to prosecute a Federal Immigration Officer after he shot and killed a young black man during an arrest attempt. What she was trying to do was explain clearly the facts that had been gathered in the case and the conclusion that she came to concerning the shooting. Due to the number of recent incidents involving white police officers shooting black men during police actions, there was a considerable rush to judge this latest incident as just another case of the use of excessive force against those of color. People had been judging the case without clearly seeing the facts; so, Worthy made a lengthy and detailed explanation to explain her conclusions ad decision not to charge the Immigration Officer, who happened to be white.

opinionatedThis little saying has widespread applicability in our daily lives. Many of us, and I have to admit to being in this group from time to time, rush to judgments without clearly seeing all of the facts. Snap judgments are often based upon the use of stereotypes or prejudices – some preconceived notions that we have going into a situation. It is very difficult not to have some mental “pre-sets” in life and even more difficult to learn not to use them to render a quick (and most of the time incorrect) judgement of people or situations.

How many times have we all looked at someone who might have been dresses strangely or at least differently and made a snap decision about them? You might decide that they represent a danger to you or that they are to be ignored or avoided, because of how they look. Perhaps you just silently say “tsk, tsk” to yourself and wonder how they could have such poor taste in clothes, at least according to your different lookstandards. Perhaps they appear to be unkempt to you. These are all judgments that you might make before you even speak to them (if you speak to them at all). Have you had experiences where you ended up talking to them and discovering, to your surprise, that they turned out to be very interesting people? Do you remember how quickly your concerns about their appearance faded into the background, once you got to know them? Once you saw them more clearly were you still ready to judge them solely on their appearance?

Situations can also present the opportunity to pre-judge or rush to judgement, before we have all of the facts (or maybe any facts at all) to support those judgments. Confrontational situations almost always cause us to get on one side or the other without understanding all of the facts involved. Situations involving the unknown or possible dangers may provoke reactions or responses made without taking the time to see things clearly. We may avoid participating in an activity that turns out to be fun because of some preconceived notion of the risks or dangers involved.

The key word at work in the opening quote is “judge”. It is very hard to put off making a judgement about people judge thingsand situation until we have the time to collect and analyze the facts that should be driving that decision. We seem to have this need to respond; to answer the internal question, “What should I do?” Sometimes the best answer is to do nothing at the moment. Instead of “think fast” we should just think and try to get a clear picture of the situation or the person. Secondly, one must ask the question about the word judge – “By what or whose standards?” Taking that extra moment to think before you judge may help you see that the judgement you were about to make is based on prejudice or pre-conceived notions and not supported by the facts at hand. At least it may allow you to take the extra step of trying to see the picture more clearly, before you rush to a judgement. Most of the time the answer to the question “what don’t I know?” about this person or situation is more important and more interesting than what you think you know judgement

Ultimately we can get to a state where making judgments is not something that we spend much time and energy
upon. Perhaps if we rushed to learn more about people, rather than rushing to judgments about them we’d have less fears and prejudices and more friends.

Have a great day and put off judging those whom you meet today. Try to make a friend before you form an opinion.