I hate when people are put in boxes. When they are overgeneralized as lazy, unintelligent, worthless or any other adjective you can think of. We tend to want to put anyone who is different from us into a category that is lesser. We most often either judge someone and do nothing or judge and try to help. I don’t believe either is okay. Doing nothing is simply uncaring and unloving. Trying to help on the other hand is generally just to inflate our own ego’s. When we try to help someone we try to make them into a morally better person which too often is just a version of ourselves. Before writing someone off as hopeless or in need of your help, first try to understand where they are coming from.
I’m a white, middle class, male who lives in a society dominated by white males. I know little of judgement simply based on my appearance. It wasn’t until my disorder that I noticed how it felt to be judged based on my appearance. When my body would lock in an odd position or when I would spasm in public I could sense the stares of those around me. Looking different than everyone else made me incredibly self conscious and a lot more sensitive to what others thought of me. One instance of judgement stands out particularly vivid in my mind.
I had gone to a church to see my brother perform in his schools choir and my head stopped working in a normal way. My bottom lip wouldn’t stop moving and my neck was spasming. At some point I decided that I needed to go to the bathroom just to get away from everyone and I hoped that my spasms would calm down if everything was quiet. As I tried to go through the bathroom door a kid that was probably 12 years old stopped me. He said I couldn’t go into the bathroom because I was on drugs. He assumed because I looked different that I was drugs and couldn’t be allowed to go into a church bathroom.
While this experience may not sound very serious it made me extremely angry. Though it was just a little kid stopping me, I had never been denied something based on my appearance my entire life. I was already sensitive to the fact that I was being stared at and now I couldn’t even use the bathroom? It was hurtful and unfair. Looking back at it now I see what the experience taught me. It helped me realize the power our judgements have on others.
Too often we act like that little kid and judge before we understand. When we judge we hinder ourselves from connecting with a fellow human being. I’ve learned to try understand before I judge someones morality, intelligence, spirituality, etc. By no means have I mastered the ability to understand before I judge but I have begun to try. I don’t every want to make someone feel like I did. Instead of tearing people down with our judgements, we need to start understanding where others are coming from. What you learn about others may surprise you and help you realize that maybe you’re the one who needs to change.
As I began to get more used to looking different I became less sensitive to the stares. I became more secure in myself and realized that what others thought about me really had no bearing to how I approached life. Instead of getting angry at others judgements I’ve learned to either ignore the stares or to engage in a conversation to help who ever it is. Letting judgements get to you not only hurts yourself but also the other person. When you react in anger to someones judgement of yourself, you shut off the possibility of letting them understand you. Judgement is so engrained to us to as human beings we have to make a choice every day, perhaps every minute, to stop and realize that judgement isn’t ours to give. I feel very strongly that the reason we are all put on this earth is to let all our choices be products of love. If we choose to let all our choices be products of love than judgement has no place.