Is it right to be judgmental? Must everything be black or white? I like to think that there are many shades of gray. The critique I hear about musicians, actors, actresses, sports players, and even friends, and acquaintances can be so… well… mean. I get that we as humans like to make judgements. If we did not, we’d never sit on a chair, because we’d be forever considering and debating what a “chair” is, instead of saying “it has a flat surface, and four legs and a back support – it’s a chair – and then sit. Well, when it comes to others people, especially friends and acquaintances, I often feel pulled into opinions and critical judgments – as if I am supposed to not like certain people, to judge people harshly, to make them feel less than. As I grow and learn, I often see how hateful and mean people can be.
Just this weekend I experienced the misplaced rage of a driver who shouted “get off the road you assholes” to me and my friends as we were out on a bike ride, and at a stoplight. I have recently read that Don Miguel Ruiz suggests not looking at the person doing the shouting, but instead at my reaction to the offense. Did we deserve to receive such hateful words? No. Were we being safe and respectful of others on the road? Yes. Did we do anything to warrant such anger from a stranger? Absolutely not. SO then why would I even be bothered by this? Human nature tells me that anyone in that situation would be bothered by being yelled at. Well, is that really true? Do all people feel such low self-esteem that a comment by some angry passerby really makes them re-evaluate their entire existence? I’d hate to think so. In fact, I bet a lot of people would tell me that they wouldn’t even be the least bit affected by that.
Letting the anger and hate of others slide right off sounds easy enough, but what if you weren’t in a place to take that so easily? Should one blame themselves further for letting it happen? Well that certainly wouldn’t help matters.
So what is there to do? Avoid ever going outside? Stay away from any public setting for the rest of your life? Not an option. The answer again must come from within.
Don Miguel Ruiz speaks of a Magical Kitchen in which one has all they could ever eat – all the best food in the world. Someone shows up at your door one day, and offers you a pizza. There is a catch. If you take the pizza you have to obey that person. If you have all the food you could ever want, you wouldn’t think twice about giving up your freedom to a stranger with a pizza. You have what you need. You don’t feel any compulsion to give in.
Now imagine the same scenario without the advantage of having any food at all. You are starving, and the stranger offers you food. You take it. You need to. You are willing to do anything to get it. Even give up your freedom. You can’t help it. You are dependent on this handout.
Ok, so this is all metaphorical obviously. If you already have something in excess, you won’t be tempted to become dependent on it from another. Although in this example we use food. One could also apply the same logic to love. When I love myself in excess, the hateful words of another are meaningless to me. Not because I have a witty comeback, or because I am completely numb, but because I really have no place in my life for such negativity. It just doesn’t fit. It bounces off without effort.
That’s where I want to be. I want to exist in a place where the negativity of those around me doesn’t stick. I often hear half-compliments, things meant to be witty but are also seemingly hurtful. Maybe I am just way too sensitive. I see a lot of gay men do this to each other – talking about how they want to be accepted by society, while at the same time, they talk about each other like an enemy, like they hate them. They critique, judge, and make cutting remarks about looks, style, body, talents, social standing, class, and intelligence, to name a few. Sometimes I wonder why people who are still being treated like second-class citizens treat each other like they are less-than. I see racism and sexism too. Teasing people about the way they look or where they come from. It bothers me. Well, I must say that I choose to steer clear of it when I see it. It’s a deal-breaker for me. I guess it makes it hard to make friends sometimes. I feel like people like when other people feed into their hate and negativity. Since I try to avoid it, I often avoid the people who display these traits. Despite the challenges of finding good friends, who aren’t critical or judgmental, who aren’t racist or sexist, age-ist, or class-ist, there are good people out there. I value the friendships I have today for the fact that those in my life are positive influences. They are the best friends I could ever ask for, and I truly love them.
P.S. – It is good to be happy.
Thanks for reading.