It’s happened to just about everyone before: You wave a car past you and the driver neglects to give the appreciative hand signal, you hold open a door for complete strangers as they obliviously walk past without so much as a head nod, you stop traffic for a group of teenagers can safely cross the road only to watch them take their sweet time shuffling past, still texting on their cellphones. These things happen to me, almost on a daily basis. I can choose to react in one of two ways: I can get angry and decide they are ungrateful *******s, or I can give them the benefit of the doubt, assuming they may be having an off-day.
All too often, as human beings, we pass judgment on others before we even get a chance to think twice. As many times as we’ve been told not to judge a book by its cover, it really is instinctual to assess someone based on their looks and/or mannerisms. Upon giving someone the once over, we create stories about them in out minds: where they’re from, how they act, their values, if we are “better” than them or not.
Thoughts, albeit as powerful as they may be, are harmless unless taken to the next step. I could go in to a passionate activist rant here, but this is not what this platform is intended to be. I strive to pass as little judgment as possible on people because, let’s face it, there are times when I hope others don’t judge me based on how I look/dress/act on first sighting- do unto others as you’d want done unto you.
I’m certain there have been days when I’ve been so blinded by something that had angered/frustrated/saddened me that I had forgotten to wave at someone kind enough to let me merge on to the highway or that I had completely overlooked the stranger who took his time to hold the door open for me to pass through- this is not the person I am (I hope).
On a majority of occasions, I’m grateful, courteous and polite but, like any other person with emotions, I have my occasional bad days interspersed with the good that effect my actions/outward moods. From this realization, I am able to take a moment before I pass judgment on others and call on another set of human abilities: compassion and empathy.
At the end of it all, I am the only person that really suffers from passing judgment on these people that may never appear in my life again. I can be angry/annoyed/disgusted by someone’s behavior, or I can take a deep breath, smile, and assume that the “jerk” that just flew by without so much as a “thank you” had just stepped in a big ol’ pile of dog poop just after getting his fancy new shoes shined.