A long look at someone, a few brief words out of their mouth or a few lines of background can lead me to pretty complete judgments about people.
I am not proud of it, but I jump to conclusions about people all the time. It’s that old judging “books by their cover” thing and I am a huge culprit. But brother, you better not try to judge me.
A person from my past thinks I made a terrible mistake marrying 15 months after my late wife’s death. The person has been pointed about expressing dismay and has even refused to break bread with my wife and I.
This has made me hopping mad. I have obsessed about it far too much. I imagine the harsh things I would say to the person if I get a chance. I constantly construct arguments about how wrong the judgement is and I live in befuddlement why the person thinks my actions are any of their business in the first place.
And yet, what I keep coming back to is I have judged that person in the past and never gave it a second thought. Increasingly, when I judge others I find myself jerked back to the ugly fact that I am doing exactly what I despise.
Certainly some of us have to judge people as a part of what we do. When people worked for me I needed to judge their performance. And, I obviously judge and grade the work of my students.
But judging whether people are making the correct choices or following the right life path is silly, mean and even vicious because we have no idea of the person’s backstory, motives or needs.
When we judge people’s choices and actions, when it’s really none of our business, we are insisting that our own frame and values are perfect for everyone. That, is of course, poppycock.
That arbitrary judging is wrong is certainly not a new discovery for me, but I have found that my anger over being judged has dramatically increased my sensitivity to my own judgmental ways.
If I had a nickel for every time I mistakenly jumped to conclusions about people I’d have a huge bucket load of nickels. Perhaps the recent scars of being judged myself will produce a few less nickels as I move forward.
And, I hope my realization that I am often guilty of mean judgments can also lead me toward the path of forgiveness.
Tim McGuire is the author of “