Whether we admit it or not, we all judge others (non-verbally most of the time.) Feel no shame, for it’s in our nature to do so for the purpose of our survival. The amount of judgment however, seems to be getting out of hand — causing differences, arguments, segregation… wars. Hatred not only hurts people around you, but it imprisons you (in a dark, dark place). So here are a few thought starters to set you free:
1. Remember, you’ve been that asshole before.
There are those days when nothing is going right. Not one single thing. And the last thing you care about are other people’s feelings. You think to yourself: "I’m nice all year round. It’s acceptable to be a jerk just for today. (Plus, I really could care less right now.)" Whether that’s you accidentally shoving someone out of your way (since you’re kind of currently impatient), giving your waiter a hard time over something petty, yelling loudly over the phone in a public place, or simply responding to people in a curt manner, you’ve been THAT asshole.
2. You think they’re weird, but they think YOU’RE weird
Stereotypes are helpful for us to understand the world and people around us, to help us set expectations, and to guide our actions. Our brains take in so much information every minute that it’d be impossible to process anything without context and bias. We group things and people. We pick and choose what we see based on what we think are important to us. We leverage previously acquired knowledge and experiences. For example, we know to take off our shoes in an Asian household. We don’t find it creepy when Europeans greets us with a kiss.
Stereotypes however, were never meant to rank certain groups as superior and others, inferior. Just as a red cup is simply different from a blue one, people are objectively different from one another. It’s not to say that you can’t have preferences of one over the other due to your lifestyle, but you shouldn’t base people’s integrity on their preferences. (Steve Pinker talks about the variety in morality experience in the Moral Instinct that somewhat relates to this.)
3. That ONE thing you’ve been brought up to believe and couldn’t imagine it any other way, someone else was brought up to believe the complete OPPOSITE.
Difference in opinion can be a matter of childhood imprints and habits. While some of us are brought up to believe, for example, that it’s rude to deny gifts, others are brought up to believe that it’s rude to accept them. Apply this to other issues of all caliber — fighting over the check, gay rights, human rights…
The only way we can break down these barriers is through understanding. Try to understand others and help others understand you.
4. Shit happens. It really does.
Bad things happen to people. Life seems to not discriminate in that matter, and sometimes it changes people for the worse. Hate to use clichés, but they exist for a reason so here it is: people who deserve the least love need it the most. You don’t make jerks better people by being a jerk to them just as you don’t yell at someone to make them less angry, or tell a depressing story to make them less sad. Be a good human being and tell them they are heading in the wrong direction. If the person is a close friend, you can make it fun by having an “intervention.”
5. No one wants to be homeless, hungry, or hated
Disregarding weird cases of masochism, no one wants to be homeless, hungry, or hated. I’ve had friends tell me that homeless people are homeless by their own faults. That could be true to a certain extent, but try to understand that it’s a chain of circumstances that led them there. You know, because after all, poverty cycle is a real thing. Sometimes it’s pure bad luck; being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe a one time mistake that you couldn’t come back from. Maybe they’re just jerks because they didn’t know better, or have been abused over and over again to reach that point. There’s always a story.
6. No one is perfect. Nope, not even you.
If you were to tell me that you’ve NEVER screwed up, I’d tell you to go to a corner and re-reflect on your life. Everyone learns about life at a different speed, and experience different things at different points. Every person however, is whole. Where you’re lacking, someone else is excelling. Objectively speaking, we all just have a different makeup.
Your goal in life should be a better person than you were yesterday, not a better person than someone else.
Now breathe, smile, and carry on.
The sky’s on fire and leaves are silhouettes.
I need my donuts :).