We all know and are generally open to the idea of not judging the people around us that date and marry the same sex, have a different ethnicity than us, make less money than we do, practice different religions, or choose to not have a family because they just, in all honesty, don’t really like kids.
Then there are the extremes. There are certain populations of people that we almost find it acceptable to write off as OK to “judge”: the extremely obese, the drug addicts, the homeless, the felons, the severely mentally ill. We wouldn’t say it, but we often think it’s fine to intentionally look away, avoid them, and assume we need to protect ourselves from them because they could be “dangerous”.
It’s not all of us, and it’s not all of the time…but, it’s not OK. And, I’m ashamed to admit that I am one of the guilty ones.
I sat next to a very obese woman on the plane last week. She ordered her own bags of chips and asked me to order her more so she could have mine also, she poured 5 sugar packets into her coffee, and drank through 6 apple juices and sodas during our single flight. I was so disturbed by her obvious disregard for her health that I did everything I could to keep from talking to her, despite the fact that she was an incredibly polite and friendly with everyone she spoke to.
I walked by dozens of homeless people in Santa Barbara, intentionally not making eye contact so they wouldn’t strike up a conversation with me or ask me for money. When I finally realized what I was doing and intentionally looked at one woman and said hello, she graciously smiled at me and simply said hello back.
And, I ran by an older man not the boardwalk the other morning who was singing out loud, arms thrashing around, and dancing all over the path. My immediate reaction was to steer clear, be on guard, and assume he was on some weird drug. I decided to stop that thought process, and rather believe that he was just really a beautifully free spirit that loved singing and dancing.
Yes, we are all unique and different in so many ways. But, we are all the same. We all have things we struggle with. We all have areas that we should be working on, but procrastinate because we either don’t know how to change, or aren’t ready to try. And, we all have things that we do even though we know they’re not “normal”.
We are all unique, and uniquely the same. None of us are justified in judging others. And, I clearly have a lot of learning and work to do.