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To Judge Or Not To Judge?

Judging people is easy. How often during a day do we all hear other people judging other people, ourselves judging other people and us judging ourselves.

Happens all day every day.

“Why did they do that?” ‘How could someone do that?’ ‘How horrible are they?’

‘What were they thinking?’ ‘They’re just not that smart’ ‘They’re not like us’
Why did I do that?’

So much judgement, starting from news media to family dinners, schools to workplaces, anywhere people are gathered, people judge each other.

And yet, there are some shining examples where judgement could easily be found but is not allowed to stick around or influence the outcome.

  1. The first would be the Accident and Emergency department of a hospital. Imagine two casualties arrive at A&E, both covered in blood. One carries a hammer, the other with head injuries as a result of being hit by a hammer. I would find it very difficult to do what the nursing staff and doctors do, treating both men equally without judgment.
    My first reaction would be to treat the head injury and ignore the guy with the hammer, because, in my mind, he obviously inflicted the injury. In A&E, they evaluate the wounded based on the seriousness of their condition, it doesn’t matter how or why they were injured both are treated equally.
    Just thinking about that is very humbling, because who am I to judge. I would have no idea of the real situation, and my invented story could be way off the truth.
  2. And do you remember when the Pope was shot several years ago? Once he had recovered, his first action was to go into the prison and speak with the man who shot him. To seek understanding of what made him pull the trigger that day. I didn’t understand the Pope’s actions at all. I think the last thing I would want to do is face my attacker, especially so soon after the incident, when I was still hurt by his actions.
    Reflection on this made me realise just how powerful an act this was by the Pope, even though it was probably the most humble, generous and kind thing he could do. He went to his attacker and forgave him and sought the answer to how he provoked the action, so he could make it right between them.

And there’s one s scenario where there seems to be so much judgement and very little understanding, being a parent.

I’m sure you’ve seen a toddler having a tantrum and I’m sure you’ve watched a parent, pushed to beyond their limits, shouting at and maybe even smacking their child. I’ve watched people avidly viewing such a scene and some actively enjoying a sense of superiority as they roll their eyes at each other, tut and shake their heads, a disgusted look on their face.

This makes me feel horrible for many reasons, I hate watching an out of control parent take their frustration out on their child, I hate watching a ‘moral majority’ standing by passing judging on someone who needs help and offering nothing. And I hate the unpleasantness it evokes for everyone involved or witnessing the event.

It’s never good to experience a scene like this, and with some personal experience of parenthood, sleepless and disturbed nights and possibly tension between the parents, I can empathise with the frustration of the parent, dealing constantly with this bundle of demanding, curious, energetic joy.

It’s apparent that every situation could be seen differently depending on the lenses being used. If we can change the story, looking for different options and possibilities we can see the world from different points of view.

When we really spend time in someone else’s situation, when we really spend time appreciate the challenges and difficulties faced by those we are in disagreement with, our original ideas can soften, we get a feel for how and why they make the decisions they make and it usually has nothing to do with us.

The more we become aware of different views we expand not only our thinking, but also our compassion, understanding and our empathy.

I’m making progress with this, in my intention not to judge others for their actions and instead, to learn and grow from such situations that I find throughout the years. And I am becoming more able to stop and think rather than projecting all my stuff over a situation and obviously my work contributes to that.

Then this happened.

While checking into facebook I was met with a post that horrified me and to be honest I wondered whether to share this story, even though it illustrates my point.

I was so upset to see two ‘thug looking’ boys pose for a photo, each holding the ear they had cut off a puppy. One was holding the scissors in his hand. Truly, my stomach is aching as I type this.

In my world, this is a totally unacceptable thing to do and as I read the facebook post I wanted nothing more than to take a pair of scissors and remove a part of their body, to inflict an injury they wouldn’t forget in a hurry. The poor, abused puppy sat between them, head bowed and bleeding from where his ears used to be. I couldn’t belief anyone could do such a thing.

A puppy?

A source of joy, fun and love. Dear God, Why?

I just didn’t get it on any level.

I was really challenged to apply my empathetic approach to a situation like this.

On no level could I imagine having nothing but real anger towards these boys. It totally challenged my work of seeing the world differently through the eyes of others.

But then I did start thinking about what kind of world they had been brought up in to make such torture not only acceptable but a source of pride. What sort of adults were in their lives that made this seem normal, commonplace?

And the point of seeing the world through different eyes is not to find blame, not for the parents, the teachers and their influencers. It’s about allowing myself to explore how they could possibly get to the point of proudly posing for that photo, sharing for the rest of the world to see.

And there are obviously reasons for that. The people who make a living from dog fighting cut the ears off their dogs so they don’t lose them in a fight and lose focus. Horrible I know, and so these boys may see those people as their community leaders and aspire to be like them having never learned to have compassion for another being.

Children who grow up in deprivation can grow to care only about their own survival, and cutting the ears of their puppy could have been a rite of passage.

This act is still despicable to me, it still disgusts me and I would still like to horsewhip someone, but maybe I’d rather horsewhip the adult who taught these boys to feel nothing for anyone or anything else.

And sometimes in business, in can be a real struggle to see someone else’s viewpoint, their pain, their needs, especially if they’re being difficult, horrible, and abusive to us.

However, when we can see the opposing viewpoint, it’s so much easier to find a solution that benefits everyone. We might not get everything we want, but we’d get more than if we’d just lock horns and push.

It’s not easy, but worth it. I know because I just had to work really hard on this one.

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