I admit, I do.
When I see someone driving their kids in a car while smoking a cigarette, I judge.
When I see a parent repeatedly making what the child already knows are empty threats (if you do that one more time you are NOT coming on the family trip to Disney World), I judge.
When I see people at the gym, taking up space on the treadmill but not using it and then giving the stink-eye to someone who asks if they are using it, I judge.
When I see someone assume that their one view is the only correct view, I judge.
When I see people judge others, I judge – ironic, no?
I admit it. I judge people all the time. I even let it out once in a while for public consumption. It ain’t right, in my opinion, but I do.
Passing judgement, I think, is a natural thing. It’s like water, easily flowing downstream from your brain to your mouth (where you announce your judgment) or fingers (where you type it out for all to see).
Very often, I find, that passing judgement then puts up a wall, a dam, a defensive fortification, if you will. We will stand behind that Great Wall of Judgement, right or wrong, to the bitter end, flinging stones and arrows.
But what happens when we step outside the wall and take a moment to understand, or at least TRY to understand?
A couple of months ago I passed judgement on a fellow parent for smoking a cigarette outside my daughters’ school. There was a time when I was much younger that I smoked, but I eventually came to a place where I knew it was not right for me, so I quit. I also came to a place where I didn’t care if people smoked as long as they didn’t do it around my children (or any kids for that matter). I ripped into this parent passive-aggressively online – how could he be smoking outside the school? what kind of parent is he? what’s the matter with him?
I felt pretty superior. A couple of people piled on.
But then my dear friend Woody chimed in – he essentially asked me what did I know about this guy really? what did I know about his addiction?
It gave me pause. It made me think. His comment didn’t necessarily change my mind, but it did soften my stance a bit. The truth is, we know that cigarette smoking is bad for you, but this guy I am sure already knows that. For me the issue was smoking in front of the school and around kids. For him, whether he knew it or not, the issue may be a question of the power of his addiction. The point is, I didn’t know this guy at all.
Gee, I’m not doing a really good job of making my point here, am I?
What I’m trying to say is this – very often when disagreements come up, we think we are fighting from diametrically opposed positions, whether it’s smoking, politics or parenting in the autism community. I think that more often than not, we are not comparing apples to apples and that if we really took the time to put ourselves in others’ shoes, we would find that we are a lot more similar than we think – and even if we are arguing apples to apples, it’s usually more along the lines of Granny Smith to Red Delicious.
I fail on a daily basis to walk in another’s shoes, but that does not mean I stop trying.