We All Do It.
But Where Does It Come From?
I do it all the time, yet I never really stopped to think it through until yesterday. Why yesterday? Another mystery in the universe of my life. But there I was.
I had made a decision. In the briefest of moments, dealing with something going on in my life involving another person, I made a decision, turned that into a pronouncement, and moved on, not even noticing what had just happened. I made the move, not pausing for any additional consideration, and it was over before I even became consciously aware of what I was doing.
I was judging. My “decision” was nothing more than judgement. Mentally, I had a final say in the situation by rendering the experience and the person “bad.”
Reconsidering the situation, my judgement was nothing more than an impulsive, unconscious, and totally knee-jerk reaction. Worse yet, if that is even possible, there was no intentionality to it whatsoever. My response was totally emotional.
React * Judge * Pronounce * Move On. A rinse-and-repeat decision-making routine I have likely executed a bazillion times by now. Had I even really considered, the situation? Maybe. But for the most part, in those split-second decisions, I was making emotional judgments without even realizing what the deciding factors were.
How easy and efficient it is to do.
I had a neighbor, a wonderful and caring women, who lived with multiple sclerosis. She never let her MS stand in her way of doing or experiencing anything in her life. Her motto was, “Everybody’s got something.” She would remind herself that ‘everybody’s got something’ and sally forth with her life.
Everybody’s got something. How true.
In his newest book, The Beauty of Dusk, Frank Bruni takes this notion one step farther. In a chapter titled “The Sandwich Board Theory,” he ponders how improved the world would be if all of us just happened to be wearing sandwich boards that listed the main challenges we’ve survived, or we’re currently going through.
I had not even finished reading the chapter when I began to consider what my sandwich board would reveal about me. Would people treat me differently if they could read my sandwich board? I had totally missed the point—but it got me where I needed to be.
Would I treat others differently if I could “see” their challenges? Yes, I would.
But this was not the answer. Rather, it was a segue to a bigger question, why? Why would I treat another differently if I was aware of their challenges?
Honestly, “seeing” a person’s sandwich board, noting their self-described challenges, would enable me to see them with my heart.
You can find a piece of yourself within every other human being on this planet.
Yes, I could find a piece of myself in another human being, but that would mean that I must look for it, to take the time to really look and be mindful.
But this was not the answer. Yet again, it was a segue to a bigger question. Why don’t I see a little bit of myself in the reflections of others in the first place?
This question reminded me of a Zen parable involving a mirror. Mirrors reflects things the way they are. A mirror can’t judge or pronounce things to be good or bad. But if a mirror is covered with dust, the image becomes distorted. You need to wipe the mirror clean so that it can reflect the clarity and true nature of that which is before it. The parable teaches that labeling and judging are the dust on your mirrors.
There it was. The clarity of what you see, a true reflection, is obscured by the dust of judging and labeling. Wiping away that dust allows the reflection in your heart, your very best self, to be seen.