I’ve been bothered lately by the fact that we judge people based on so little of their lives. It is our society that encourages this, because we weren’t born with an inclination to make judgement or scrutinize other people in a negative way. It’s been said before, that prejudices and such are learned behaviors, not biological ones. It’s pretty much entirely unconscious, and we all do it – we classify someone as “shy” or “antisocial” if they don’t speak in class, or as “snobby” if they post too many selfies on social media, or as “an asshole,” if they are speeding and driving screwy on the road. If someone dresses differently than we do, or than the majority, we label them “weird.”
We stigmatize mental illness and addiction, because it’s beside the norm. We can’t fathom what must be wrong with those “types” of people.
I think it’s very rare that these snap judgement are true, so I’ve begun to give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they just lost a pet, or a friend – maybe that’s why they’re aloof. Maybe they are trying to compensate for being incredibly insecure, or depressed, or angry. They cope differently. It doesn’t matter if they’re strangers, or acquaintances, or even people that are close to me but I don’t always understand their actions. I don’t truly know what is going through their minds.
We don’t know half of anyone’s story. We don’t truly know anybody.
We don’t know what they’re going through, we don’t know the struggles in their day-to-day lives or their internal conflicts. We don’t know why people behave the way they do, but just because we don’t understand something doesn’t mean we should dismiss it.
It’s important for us to be kind, even in our own thoughts, because our thoughts are only in our head for so long – over time, ugly thoughts will make their way out, and show themselves to the world. We need to be better than that and transform those initial opinions into sympathetic, open-minded, forgiving ones.