Of course I would like to believe I don't judge people. But I do. All the time. I don't judge people on their skin colour, sexual orientation, gender, religion, perceived ability, age, etc, etc... I really never feel judgement rising when it comes to circumstance, situation, or identity. If people are Born This Way, I am pretty much open to and accepting of anything. I thrive within diversity so you will often find me (a white, heterosexual, non-disabled person) hanging about at the edges, enjoying the company of people who have been labelled, marginalised, or excluded. But I do judge some choices people make (those not born of circumstance) and I do judge attitudes and behaviour. And I get super-judgey (work with me) towards folk who are judgemental about others for their circumstance, situation, or identity. In fact I get downright hateful sometimes. Hmm. The trouble is, of course, that I don't always know the story. I don't know why people are angry - but I do think anger usually comes from a place of hurt. I don't know why people are mean - but I do think people who have been mistreated often go on to mistreat others. Now, I don't want to tolerate intolerance. I hate hate. But I actually don't think it is my hate or anger which will make any positive difference at all. It is my tolerance, my openness, which will make the difference. And I think I need to start small. Yesterday when I was driving through the city, another driver cut in front of me, giving me quite a fright. The driver was a man in a suit, the car looked expensive. I immediately judged this behaviour as arrogance. I even went as far as thinking he had spotted I was a woman and so I labelled him sexist. But then I caught myself (I wish it happened more often). Couldn't he have just had news that someone he loved was in hospital? Or might he have been deep in thought about what to do to help his elderly neighbour? Or might he have been angry about an injustice he had witnessed? Perhaps he had seen somebody judged unfairly, and.... Oh.
So, thinking about my frustrating inability to be entirely non-judgemental, I thought of a little project. When I do these flash judgements, the little ones which might not even matter outside my head because nobody else ever knows they are there, I am going to create a story. Inside my head, I will write a little scenario which makes the person before me seem more sympathetic. I sat there, waiting at the traffic lights, and looked at people as they passed. I quickly labelled each person with a positive attribute and a flash of a story. Thinking like this was not only more pleasant, it actually led me to a gentle curiosity about everyone's real stories. I felt I could see kindness, vulnerability, authenticity all around. Instead of writing people off, I wanted to invite them in. Come in from the cold!