There is a commercial right now, for insurance I believe, that talks about easier ways to save money. In this particular commercial a guy is trying to save money on a diet plan by having local popular middle school girls follow him around and pass judgment on him every time he eats. In the commercial the three girls respond to everything he eats by disdainfully saying "eww" and "That's so gross" and "Really?". Effectively the guy doesn't eat anything.
The commercial is amusing. I am not really sure it is effective at selling car insurance, but hey it does its job because I remembered the product. Only the thing I take away from the commercial has nothing to do with insurance at all. In fact all I can think of after watching the commercial is how I sort of want to slap those girls for being obnoxious judgmental brats, and praying my theoretical daughters are never like that.
Here is the problem though, my daughters will be like that. Well not exactly like that, because I would like to think my children would have better vocabulary than those girls, but the harsh judgmental thinking is going to be there. Even if I manage to raise sweet kind and friendly children who make those girls look like the vapid shrews they are, they are still going to judge other people. They might not express it out loud in such a format, but the thoughts will be there.
Lets just admit it right here and now; we all judge people. I do it and I am not terribly proud of it all the time, but I still do it. You do it too. It might not all be huge damning judgments about peoples faiths or lifestyle choices, it might just be something little like the brand of pasta sauce the woman in front of you is buying, or the volume of music that guy in the next car is using, or the type of perfume the women in the next cube is drenched in, but the thoughts are there.
I think that judgment is natural to humans. I think perhaps it is almost as easy for us as breathing is. There is something hard wired in our brains to make us compare ourselves to others and then judge them for the differences. Of course this is so wrong on so many levels.
We can never accurately judge another person. The problem is that all of our personal judgments or formed through our own personal perceptions, which are formed by our own unique lives and upbringings, so no one else is ever going to truly match up to what we think they should be.
Even if you share the same faith and socio-economic background as another person, there is going to be something that you judge one another on. It might be something stupid like laundry detergent, but it will be there.
I get the brunt of other peoples judgment much more often than I would like to admit. Being pagan sort of puts a big old target on me for other peoples thoughts. They, much like the popular girls in the insurance commercial, have no problems voicing their opinions on my choice in faith. Also much like the popular girls their vocabulary is really lacking and unimaginative.
Thankfully over the years I have learned to let these statements sort of slide off my back. I tell myself that they think they mean well and just sort of move on. I would be lying though if I said that some of the hateful things that are said don't hurt a little.
I have someone very close to me who is suffering from some fairly serious mental problems just now. There is some bad depression, anxiety and panic disorders, as well as severe OCD. One of the things they said was that they were afraid people would think they were crazy or weak if they knew what they were going through.
In their mind they didn't think anyone would understand that they had to do these crazy OCD rituals, were absolutely driven to do it by a compulsion, or else they would break down. They saw it that any rational person would say it wasn't really a problem. A rational person would say if they wanted to stop they just would.
Of course a rational person would think that. I have watched the TLC specials on OCD and thought to myself that I just didn't understand why they couldn't stop. I don't understand it, because I have never been controlled by such compulsions. Just because I don't understand it though doesn't mean I don't believe it is a real problem. I know it is a real problem.
Still there will be people who judge them. There will be people who say that they are making it up, or should just get over it, or any number of stupid things. They will judge this person, and they will say it out loud, and the only thing they will accomplish is making things worse.
I guess in the end what I can hope for in my theoretical daughters and sons is that they know that they should keep those judging thoughts to themselves because they will never know what is going on in the other persons life. Just because their faith might say working on Sunday is evil, for all they know is that the person they are thinking that about would think that they are evil for going dancing on Saturday night. Just because in our family we don't eat salt because of severe high blood pressure, that person might have perfect blood pressure and can eat all the salt they like.
I guess what I am saying is this; judge because you will, but keep an open
mind that you could easily be wrong. Also keep it to yourself. Saying your
judgments out loud is a really rotten thing to do. If you wouldn't want to hear what everyone else
thinks of your choices, then they won't want to hear your opinion on
their choices either.