You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.– spoken by Atticus Finch, written by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Simple, isn’t it. Don’t judge. You don’t know a person because you don’t have his/her perspective. By the way, Scout was just seven years old when Atticus gave her this advice. So if a seven year old can understand these words, why can’t we as a society?
We All Judge
We all judge. All the time. Don’t shake your head no. You do it and so do you and so do you. We all do it.
Judgment was a theme I touched upon when I taught To Kill a Mockingbird to my high school students. Here is how I proved that we all judge all the time.
It’s the first day of school. As you walk into each classroom for the first time, what’s the first thing you do? You look at the teacher. You look at your fellow classmates. You figure out where to sit. The whole time you are judging. And this is true any time you go somewhere the first time or a place that is out of your routine – public transportation, a store, etc.
Some students would disagree with me and maybe you do too. However, I stand by my statement. We are assessing the situation and location. Is it safe? Am I going to be comfortable here? Are there potential problems here? And what is the way to get the answer to these questions? We study the people around us, and we judge them.
Now, unless you have security training, the type of judging I described above is a snap judgment. In fact, you may not even be completely conscious of it. However, if you see your version of the boogey man, you will certainly become conscious of the judgment and the situation.
The Grand Jury
The recent grand jury findings in the Garner and Brown cases have angered many people. Imagine if one or both of the cases had gone the other way, isn’t it reasonable to speculate that other people or groups would have been angered?
Regardless, what would have happened if the policemen and the victims had followed Atticus’ advice to Scout. Would two men be dead? Would law enforcement officials be on the defensive?
Now, in reality we need to be aware of situations and ignoring them is simply naive. Fight or flight is a natural instinct. However, if a people or group is judged prior to the charged situation, how can we expect people to act reasonably when there are heightened tensions and their adrenaline is pumping?
Since these grand jury decisions have come down, I’ve read a number of blog posts and Facebook messages and listened to a number of radio broadcasts. One of my goals has been to learn. I want to understand what is going on and why. What are people thinking when they act the way they act? A couple of my fellow dad bloggers have written things that I found interesting and insightful. Consider reading this and this.
We Judge Everything
Let’s not ignore the fact that we judge based on everything. There are the BIG issues such as religion and sexual orientation and the mundane – dress, hair style, educational level, parenting style, etc. By the way, you do like Bruce Springsteen, right? Cause otherwise…
Do you know how many of my students say something like, “I don’t care if others judge me?” When you’re 16, there’s a lot of things you don’t care about and other things you claim to not care about because it’s easier than admitting you do. Sure, the judgment of strangers does not have a great impact on us, at least until it does. However, we judge those closest to us as well.
How many times have you gotten angry at your spouse, your child, your mother, your friend and then realized that the reason for your anger comes from a misjudgment you made? I don’t want to admit how often I do this. Yet, it happens the most with my children. I say I’m correcting them or yelling at them because I want to help them be better. And it’s true I do want them to be the best that they can be in all ways. However, maybe they are moving slowly because they tripped in gym class. Maybe, they are talking back cause their friend ignored them during recess and it hurt their feelings. Maybe, maybe, maybe …
Atticus’ advice – it’s simple right – don’t judge a person until you consider things from his point of view. It’s so simple. Just simple.
Picture is Courtesy of Google Images
There is being Judgmental with a capital J and judgmental with a lower case one or at least in my mind.
One is what you use when you are evaluating situations for how they might impact you and the other is used without consideration for people.
I hear you Jack – that makes sense.
Always best to hear both sides of the story, whenever possible.
More to it in this case. Going for something deeper.
We need to learn to stop seeing what’s different and see what’s the same.
Nicely put and so succinctly.
I’ve said this so many times with regards to parenting. To quote a theme song from my childhood, “what might be right for you might not be right for some.” (That will be in your head all day now.) You never know what’s going on behind closed doors or what happened five minutes ago. Most of us are trying to do the right thing, but we don’t have all the information.
What’s the theme song?
I very much agree with what you wrote here. Thanks.
Great post, Larry. Yeah, I suppose we all judge, even when we’re not trying to do so. I know I do it a lot. I think being a cop so long has jaded me a little bit so that I’m less trusting than I probably would be were I a teacher or IT worker or whatever, but I recognize it and try to not let it affect me or my decisions. Thanks for sharing my link. I hadn’t read that post in a while and it made me smile to think of that woman again. I haven’t seen her recently, so I’m hoping she’s just on maternity leave.
Your post was the one that was great. I have an old friend whose a cop. I’d like to think he’s the type of cop you seem to be.
I understand how its hard for you not to do so. However, it certainly seems that you don’t have these negative preconceptions and that you are more reasoned.