We all do it. We do it subconsciously. There are those who do it innocently, and there are those who do it maliciously. In some form or other and to varying degrees, we all do it. We are prompted to do it by the world around us: The programmes on the television. The clothes people wear. The taste of our food. The size of people’s bodies.
We all make judgements. It’s natural and it’s instinctive.
We will never stop making those judgments. But do we have it in us to be mindful of the impact those judgements can have on ourselves and the people around us? We make a judgement, we believe it, we act on it, and often we may cause suffering in doing so.
And what happens if our judgements are misinformed?
Take a moment to imagine a small child on a train with his grandma. It’s the child’s first ride on a train. He appears outwardly overexcited. He’s becomes unnaturally boisterous to hide the fear he’s feeling inside. He’s loud. His behaviour is erratic. He’s out of control. The grandma asks him to behave. He spits out a string of unpleasant words, ‘Shut up, old lady, you’re not my mum. I hate you’. The man sitting opposite the grandma shakes his paper in irritation. He tuts. He judges.
The grandma asks the child, who is now patently disturbing other passengers, to ‘sit down’. The child tells her she’s ‘disgusting’. The man opposite looks up over his glasses. He shifts in his seat. He tuts. He judges.
The grandma reaches for the child’s hand to bring him back into line and to try to ease him back into his seat. The child turns and spits in her face. The man closes his paper. He stands up. He turns to the already visibly upset grandma. He judges. He tells her she has ‘a downright juvenile delinquent on her hands’ as he moves to a different seat in another compartment.
The grandma chokes back the tears. The kindly gentleman to her left taps her on her knee. The grandma smiles to hide the hurt inside.
The grandma is in no position to share the background of the child in her care. Why should she defend herself or the child? Why couldn’t that man keep his misinformed judgements to himself?
We all do it. We all judge. We judge ourselves and we judge others. It’s natural and it’s instinctive.
Take a moment to think about how lucky a background you’ve had.