Judging other people can be a struggle for almost anyone on a daily basis. People can find themselves judging others in a variety of ways. If could be something as small as how someone looks or how they act. We could be judging them based on what their government affiliation might be or their religious beliefs. The list can go on and on.
An example of how we can sometimes judge is this short story from psychologist and meditation teacher, Tara Brach who frequently tells this story: Imagine you are walking through the woods and you see a small dog. It looks cute and friendly. You approach and move to pet the dog. Suddenly it snarls and tries to bite you. The dog no longer seems cute and you feel fear and possibly anger. Then, as the wind blows, the leaves on the ground are carried away and you see the dog has one of its legs caught in a trap. Now, you feel compassion for the dog. You know it became aggressive because it is in pain and is suffering.
Your judgement changed once you understood the situation.
I came across this story that simply broke my heart and reminded me of an important lesson: never judge a person until you know exactly of what made them the way they are…
My mom only had one eye. I hated her… She was such an embarrassment. She cooked for students and teachers to support the family.
There was this one day during elementary school where my mom came to say hello to me. I was so embarrassed.
How could she do this to me? I ignored her, threw her a hateful look and ran out. The next day at school one of my classmates said, “EEEE, your mom only has one eye!”
I wanted to bury myself. I also wanted my mom to just disappear. I confronted her that day and said, “If you’re only gonna make me a laughing stock, why don’t you just die?”
My mom did not respond… I didn’t even stop to think for a second about what I had said, because I was full of anger. I was oblivious to her feelings.
I wanted out of that house, and have nothing to do with her. So I studied real hard, got a chance to go abroad to study.
Then, I got married. I bought a house of my own. I had kids of my own. I was happy with my life, my kids and the comforts. Then one day, my Mother came to visit me. She hadn’t seen me in years and she didn’t even meet her grandchildren.
When she stood by the door, my children laughed at her, and I yelled at her for coming over uninvited. I screamed at her, “How dare you come to my house and scare my children! GET OUT OF HERE! NOW!!!”
And to this, my mother quietly answered, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I may have gotten the wrong address.” – and she disappeared out of sight.
One day, a letter regarding a school reunion came to my house. So I lied to my wife that I was going on a business trip. After the reunion, I went to the old shack just out of curiosity.
My neighbors said that she died. I did not shed a single tear. They handed me a letter that she had wanted me to have.
“My dearest son,
I think of you all the time. I’m sorry that I came to your house and scared your children.
I was so glad when I heard you were coming for the reunion. But I may not be able to even get out of bed to see you. I’m sorry that I was a constant embarrassment to you when you were growing up.
You see……..when you were very little, you got into an accident, and lost your eye. As a mother, I couldn’t stand watching you having to grow up with one eye. So I gave you mine.
I was so proud of my son who was seeing a whole new world for me, in my place, with that eye.
With all my love to you,
“If you judge people….you have no time to live them” ~ Mother Teresa