Monday, 14 July 2014

Judgmental People

Have you noticed how judgmental people can get? They know nothing about you, and they just put you in a box and label you. They've decided what you're like before they even say a word to you, and it usually isn't a very flattering analysis. I can't stand people like that.


Switch the word 'people' with 'I'. Or 'you and I' if we're being honest. We're ALL judgmental. (You see how I made a judgment there?) Fine, I don't know if EVERYBODY is, but a LOT of people are. Including me. (And apparently I CAN stand me.)

I noticed this twice a couple of days ago. I was doing a lot of travelling, and a lot of people watching. A fascinating pastime at airports. People also like to watch my friends and me. No idea why.

On my last flight I was in a plane with a bunch of Indians (that's what happens when you head to Mumbai). In my head I was replaying a time I flew home, about two years ago. I had been away from home, in small towns in the US and the Philippines, for a year and a half, and I had gotten used to courtesy as a way of life. Coming back to a big city in India was a shock as government officials and shopkeepers and the man of the street were abrupt and often bad tempered.

On that flight home in 2011 I was struggling to get my overstuffed backpack out of the overhead compartment. Indian men passed me in the aisle and didn't give my predicament a second glance. In fact they made it even harder by squeezing past me in the narrow aisle. "Hmpphh," I thought, "Indian men." I remembered the extreme friendliness of the Filipinos who would go out of their way to help anyone regardless of whether they were actually in a position to offer any actual help (passersby stopping passersby to give me directions to a place neither of them knew) and the courtesy of many Americans that I had met (strangers waving at me from cars as I was running.. me: "Do I know you?"). Finally in a plane full of Indians, one foreigner stopped to help me with my bag.

This was running through my head as I once again was about to heave my backpack into the overhead bin a few days ago. "Indian men!" Before the thought was completed, two pairs of hands, one from in front of me, one behind, grabbed my bag, and placed it in the bin. Yes, both belonging to Indian men. Not even a moment's hesitation, or a pause to receive my gratitude or thanks, just like it was a normal part of life... which I guess it was.

The other incident was the next day in Mumbai. I was attending evening Mass alone. I was in the wealthier part of Mumbai, in an old church. As I 'prayed' I was looking at the backs of several middle aged and older men and women (mostly women) who were attending a weekday evening Mass. Fresh from a conversation with an aunt who attended that parish where she told me about people who judged her because she didn't wear a head covering in church, and people who walked barefoot to the tabernacle and refused to receive Communion from extraordinary lay ministers, "I would not want to know these people," I thought. So often in our wealthy Catholic parishes, people will not exchange a friendly glance, a stranger could come and go, and no one could care less. Wealthy, more concerned with tradition and rules than love of neighbour, old fashioned, boring. Yes, I got this all from the backs of a few hapless strangers in a church. (Even though none of them were wearing head coverings.)

And then came the time for the sign of peace. Expecting cold nods, straight faces and hurried head bobs, I was shocked out of my judgmental thoughts by not one but three different ladies sitting around me whose faces lit up in beautiful smiles as they folded their open palms and nodded toward me.

Take that, judgmental Sue.

Surprisingly enough, one of the best reminders for me to fight the judgmental streak in me came from Anne of Green Gables, where somewhere someone talks about 'being charitable'. Most of the time, I try to remember to make excuses for people, especially when I don't know the full story, and even when I do.

Maybe the bad tempered clerk is going home to an unhappy marriage. Maybe the guy who just cut the light is on his way to the hospital because his daughter had an accident. Maybe the girl who just refuses to smile back at me struggles with her own self worth and identity. Maybe the guy who makes cutting comments has faced cutting comments from his parents all his life. Broken people everywhere. Just like me.

It's not that people all have excuses and sin doesn't exist, it's just that *I* am not the one to have to figure out anyone's culpability or motives. And you know, when you believe the best about people, often the best comes out. 

1 comment:

  1. We INTJ's! I used to be a very judgmental chap, even to an extent to drop in at my Managing Directors office and tell him how i felt about the way he was handling the situations! We cant help it much BUT BUT i've found a solution! I believe that we are not here to judge people, but to accompany them on earth... judging is God's job not ours. If ever i catch myself being judgmental, i remind myself that i'm not here to judge. i dont expect people to hep me, i do stuff on my own, but if anyone asks me for help i try to give it to them readily and i dont expect a thank you in return too. Just assist and move on. Being non judgmental helps. Understanding that its God's area helps. Try it :)