I am grappling with my propensity for judgment. I’d like to say that I’m open-minded – and I am. But I also have a tendency to judge that is causing me to reflect painfully on my shortcomings. Thankfully, I’m in good company. You judge people, too.
Making judgments hurts. It hurts the person being judged. It hurts me. It hurts the whole human race because we are all connected. What I find most sad about this year’s election is it brought to the surface many of the judgments we make about each other. I guess the perk is we get to see all of our glorious ugliness now. The Emperor is wearing no clothes. This is us. What was hidden at family dinner tables and behind HR policies at work is now written on billboards. We don’t really like each other, and I think you are stupid. You think I’m a libtard (Yes, I’ve read your Facebook posts). We are all assholes, and it’s painfully evident right now. And, quite honestly, we are a nation in pain because of our judgments. And I, for one, need to look at my part.
I went to a meditation this week, and in the middle of moving all of the other garbage out of the way in my brain, it came through loud and clear that I’m a jerk. Yes, I’m sweet and intuitive and care about human rights, but I have a propensity – when given the opportunity – to be a jerk. I have hurt people. I am probably hurting someone right now. If you hurt me in any way, I have this knee-jerk reaction to make you pay. It’s childish, and it hurts both of us, but that’s my dirty little secret. And don’t start judging me because if you are honest with yourself, you do it, too.
You spot it. You’ve got it. These are some painful words that have an unbelievable amount of truth to them. I know, I know. You are not a sheep, and you don’t believe everything you read on the internet. But, if you have judged people for that, there is some truth that it pisses you off because at your very core you are gullible and – get this – you are a sheep that doesn’t know everything either. You have felt at the mercy of a system and a world that doesn’t give you straight facts, and you are afraid you could be wrong. Hurts, doesn’t it? “NO WAY!” you scream to no one in particular. And maybe you do take great pains to not have a wool coat and to check your facts. But you know deep inside you have the propensity to be what you despise. And THAT’s what ticks you off. It’s not me. It’s what inside you that disgusts you. But it’s so much easier to hate me, isn’t it? Even if it hurts both of us.
I have wounds from past relationships. I’ve been emotionally and verbally abused. Those gaping raw spots in my psyche cause me to build walls when I feel that energy around me. I can’t tolerate Facebook, and I have difficulty even talking to some people. I don’t want to go there again. I don’t want to be a victim and feel that pain. But I know that I had a part in those relationships. I didn’t know how to deal effectively with that situation, and I participated in it. Now I have tools to deal with those kinds of people but I’m not real sure of myself. There is a part of me inside that is still terrified if I let you near me, you will rip my heart out again. So, what do I do? I cut you out first. I build my wall. And nobody pays more for it than me.
I feel like I’m protecting myself, but I’m not. I’m just hurting myself in a different way. The wall gets thicker, and I get less connected. And if I really think about the “you spot it you got it” rationale, the reason it ticks me off so much that you talk to me that way is that you built a wall, too. Your wall is a wall of words that makes me less human so that my very being doesn’t call into question who you are. If you are railing at me, you can’t look at yourself. So, you build your wall, and I build mine. We judge and we seeth and we bleed from the inside. We both lose, and neither of us learns anything. Everybody pays.
I wish I could end this blog saying I’ve resolved this, but I haven’t. I’m grappling with my judgment. I’m bleeding from your judgment of me. I’m afraid of a world that is building walls faster than we are mending hearts. The word that keeps coming up for me is compassion. So I am grappling with how to be compassionate when I am scared of getting hurt. I sort of feel safe behind my wall. I’m struggling with how to be compassionate with myself for my own shortcomings. I want to be compassionate with you because I want you to be compassionate with me. I know that neither of us is anywhere near perfect.
It is an intrinsic human trait, and a deep responsibility, I think, to be an organ and a blade. But, learning to forgive ourselves and others because we have not chosen wisely is what makes us most human.
~~ Nayyirah Waheed, Poet