“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 Journal.com – 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 day-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 judgement 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. 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 person. 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.