There’s just no point in saying, “Don’t judge.” We all do. Without judgment, we couldn’t discern right from wrong, good from bad, wise from foolish. But let’s try – starting now – not to judge each other more harshly than we’re willing to be judged. And, when we do judge others, let’s stop and ask ourselves, “Does this really affect me in some significant way? Is it really robbing me of my own joy in life?”
It might even be worth contemplating, for a moment or two, if any feelings of negativity spring from someone else’s triggering of envy or self-loathing. Perhaps the supercilious person in the cartoon really has a sucky camera, or can’t take a decent photo that doesn’t include his own thumb. And how many times have we seen anti-gay politicians outed from their own closets? Are we being hard on someone else, because it’s easier to smash the mirror than to look into it?
If you missed it, Apple’s “Misunderstood” holiday commercial illustrates this point perfectly:
Makes me cry, every time.
There’s a lens we all share – a grainy, filmy lens that covers up a lot of flaws and brings a few into sharp focus – it’s a lens that lets us live together in relative peace and harmony. It’s a lens that lets us agree that killing, raping, and robbing each other is wrong. That part of the lens is crystal clear, because even if there are days we fantasize about the death of someone or other, we’re pretty aware that somewhere, some time, someone’s had that same thought – about us.
Inflicting ourselves on each other in any way that doesn’t allow for easy, polite escape is generally wrong, too–but not always illegal. This is where the shared lens gets a little murky and distorted. There are boundaries that we can mostly agree on. But all those other little annoyances we observe in others – what do they really matter? Who cares if the Aunt Doris likes to dye her hair blue, dons a pink pleather pantsuit with a shockingly orange Naugahyde purse, shows off her “Hello Kitty” tramp stamp, and studs her fingernails with rhinestones on a Saturday night? Are our frowns of disapproval, perhaps, robbing their recipients of joy? Is there some reason we feel the need to do that to each other – is it giving us any joy?
We all do it. There are days I fantasize about being Simon Cowell. Even if I could stop myself from rolling my eyes and looking askance, I’d probably think uncharitable thoughts about our fictional Aunt Doris’s fashion sense. Because I’ve been conditioned, all my life, to do just that. I mean, I don’t really care. If she feels cute and confident, all dolled up like that, what’s it to me?
I’m just suggesting that we work a little harder, this year, to become aware that we’re doing it and figure out why – and whether we could maybe do it a little less – at least where it doesn’t lead to a better sense of community with the folks we share this planet with.
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