Posted on January 13, 2016
Who am I to judge?
“People who judge others tell more about Who They Are, than Who They Judge.” – Donald L. Hicks, Look into the stillness.
I decided this year to forego that fruitless tradition of making resolutions as I have a history of breaking them before the Christmas decorations are packed away.
I chose instead to select an aspect of myself in which I feel ‘needs a bit of working on’. Considering my flaws the choice was not an easy one, trust me, but in the end I plumped for the issue of judgement. I sometimes (well, quite often) have a propensity to make judgements without understanding the facts.
Over the Christmas period this topic arose in different guises and got me thinking about the subject in general.
Christmas Eve, rushing to get my son to the station and then to the shops before they closed (I’d forgotten the sprouts would you believe!) we were held up in traffic. Everyone was attempting to manoeuvre around a car which had stopped on the main road as though parked. When we eventually passed it I saw that the driver was a young girl on her phone.
‘How inconsiderate,’ I ranted, ‘she could have at least waited until she reached a side road and pulled in!’
‘Perhaps she’s broken down mum, and is calling the AA,’ replied my thoughtful son.
Ummm…Oops! Hadn’t thought of that. I saw the telephone and impulsively judged the poor girl. It didn’t really matter on this occasion because the girl had no idea that I had been so accusatory.
I didn’t give it another thought until a few days later when I was writing a review on The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring (coming soon…watch this space!). The central character, Anna, on discovering the truth of her past found it difficult to understand the decisions made by her mother many years before in the aftermath of World War 2.
Her lack of empathy for the choices her mother made, led me to think about the judgements we make regarding other people’s decisions. We think: How could he/she do this to me? Why wasn’t I told? Why did I get left behind? These thoughts are natural enough when feeling hurt but perhaps we should be asking why those choices were made. How much suffering did the other person incur from making those choices?
My father, who is 91, was evacuated to Devon from London during the war and was telling our children of his experiences there. I remembered that my mother and her three brothers were kept in London as my grandmother didn’t want to be parted from them. Both choices were made from a place of love.
My fathers’ parents loved him and wished him to be safe and my mothers’ parents loved their children and couldn’t be parted from them. As it turned out my father had a reasonably good experience as an evacuee and neither my mother nor her brothers were harmed during the Blitz.
It could have been a very different story. Imagine the anger and resentment that could have been directed towards either set of parents if something dreadful had happened. My father could have been abused in the hands of strangers or a member of my mother’s family killed in the Blitz.
Which prompted me to think again about the subject of judgement. Nobody can anticipate the future. I believe that the majority of people do what they think is best at the time for those they love. We are so wrapped up in our own suffering or well-being that judgement of others without understanding the reasons behind certain actions is all too easy.
So, as well as thinking before I open my mouth assuming the worst of someone, I will try to respect decisions made by others, even if I don’t agree with them, on the understanding that they are doing the best they can at that time with the information they have.